Time for a bit of pruning and preparing for spring

Despite this ever-changing weather on the Isle of Wight over the last couple of weeks, there is still plenty to be getting on with in the garden, provided you are prepared to brave the elements.

It is a good time to carry out some pruning on many types of shrubs and trees. The garden is at its most dormant period at the moment, which makes it the ideal time to get on with any of that pruning you didn’t manage last autumn.

But don’t despair if the temperatures suddenly plummet towards freezing again before you begin the pruning process. There is still a window of a couple of weeks in which to carry out the work, but the general rule is that before the sap starts to rise in early spring all winter pruning jobs should be completed.

The main pruning of apple trees can take place about now, hopefully after the most severe winter weather has passed. Remove the side branches, cutting away any branches that grow inwards or that cross other branches. The main purpose of pruning any fruit tree is to enable good light penetration to all parts of the tree.

Newly planted trees benefit from pruning, removing any damaged growth helps them to retain their natural shape and maintain a good and healthy tree.

February is naturally the ideal month to make proper plans for spring. Perhaps think about preparing seed beds. Provided the ground isn’t frozen, you can cultivate beds and start to warm up the soil, with fleece, polythene or cloches, in preparation for sowing in the months ahead.

Organise this year’s seeds by sowing date. It is best to find a box with dividers, and file your seed packets by the month they need to be sown in. You’ll be glad of this effort in the weeks to come, as it will save you a lot of time and energy.

Don’t forget to check that all tools are clean and ready, and also that your garden machinery, such as hedge trimmers, loppers and lawn mowers, are working, especially those that have been shut away in an exposed shed or greenhouse in the garden over winer.

Give your tools and equipment the once over so you know they will be up and running as soon as you are.

Finally, give perennial weeds in your beds and kitchen garden the heave-ho. Dig them up, roots and all, to get a head start on them before the weather begins to warm up.