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Homeschool Garden Club - How to Protect Your Garden in the Winter

Some of our Garden Club members are fans of dahlias and we will start to dig these up before the weather gets really cold. We will look to split them and make more free plants for next year, either for ourselves or as part of the seed swop in January.

In the last few years our weather watchers have been keeping record and we have had a

good number of snow days! Many of our plants in the Orchard Training Garden Club are hardy and cope with the low temperatures and flurries of snow.

However, we still make efforts to protect our plants against days of snow and the unpredictable weather patterns. We pay attention to the weather forecast and our weather water study buddies warn us in good time so we can take action before the bad weather this, this helps us save plants and money.

Many evergreens have a way of shedding the snow but if they are covered, wrap up warm and go out and knock the snow off with a broom or a bamboo cane taking care not to snap the branches before the weight of the snow breaks them.

The last thing we need to remember is a bit of snow kills garden pests and so insulates plants against freezing winds. Many of the plants we have chosen in the Orchard Training Garden Club are bee friendly, they will stay dormant through the winter months and will grow away, in the spring, once the temperature rises - just in time for the bees!

We stopped feeding in late summer, so the plants don't have any soft growth on them when or if we get hit with a cold snap now.

Some of us have horses and manure piles and some of us have gardens that need manure - so there is some sharing out here. It is often given free and just needs collecting. My only advice is if this is done by car - chose a cold day as it can smell the car out if it is too warm.

Put the manure over the ground and leave it there. The worms will bring it down and the weather will also help break down.

Leave the the plants alone, don't be too tidy at this time of the year. Some plants might get some weather damage, if the frost is too hard. However, the extra growth will provide some protection, the plant may suffer at the tips but lower down will still be ok. Any berries will feed the birds and stalks will provide beneficial insects shelter.

Plants in pots need to be brought up close to the house and grouped together to prevent the roots freezing in the pots and the pots cracking. Wrap the expensive ones with fleece or bubble wrap to protect them further. Stand the pots on pot stands to help drainage and so the wet weather doesn't rot the plants.

If you haven't already washed all the empty pots, do so now and put them away. Store them in a frost free place ready to be used in the spring.

Now that we have a pond we will be hunting out a space tennis ball to prevent the surface freezing so there will be fresh water for the birds.

We will also be topping up the bird feeders.

Make sure you have a supply of rock salt for paths, particularly for nanny and granddad, we don't want them slipping.

If we do get snow remember snow is not always a bad thing for your garden - It is great fun for us to make snowmen and snow angels. So enjoy it while you can.

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