Winter is the ideal time to tidy up the garden. So, next time you attend your patch you can remove dead, diseased and damaged growth, pull out tired annuals, cut back perennials, remove any nibbled-on leaves and rip out any cold-sensitive crops, such as tomatoes. Tidying up like this can remove sources of weeds, and removes potential habitat for fungal spores like mildews, sooty mould and rusts.
So, the tips for winter maintenance:
- Leave the soil fallow for a few weeks
- Grow mustard and dig it into the soil to act as a bio-fumigant
- Clean your secateurs with methylated spirits between each plant when pruning to stop diseases being transferred from one plant to another.
- Pick up any fallen fruit
- Crown-lift trees by removing lower branches to increase air circulation
- Place any clippings that might be infected into a black plastic bag and leave in the sun for a few months to ‘cook’ or solarise before adding them to your compost
- Have a hot compost that gets up to 60 degrees so that seed and pathogens are killed
- Put only disease-free clippings into cold compost