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5 Things to plant this winter

5 Things to plant this winter

When cold climes cometh, it's tempting to reside housebound and nestle down in front of the TV. However, we gardeners are hardy types and there's plenty you could be stuffing into the ground for future harvests. Don your woolly hat, grab a spade and get digging...

1. Raspberry canes


Fancy chowing down on delicious ruby fruits next summer? Now is as good a time as any to plant out a raspberry patch. You can plant raspberry canes at any time between November and March—just make sure the ground is neither waterlogged or frozen.

Give your chosen area a good going over with a hoe, and plant your canes out in rows, leaving 50-60 cm between each plant. Ensure you surround each plant with a deep layer of mulch to help inhibit weeds come the summer months—we can speak from bitter experience that trying to tame a weed infested raspberry patch is the devil's own job.

One of our favourite raspberry varieties is the autumn fruiting Polka which produces masses of sweet red fruits. For a decent cropping, container-grown plant for backyards and patios, Ruby Beauty is a good shout.


2. Rhubarb


We love a good rhubarb plant. Not only does it provide the vital ingredients for one of our favourite country wines, its large leaves help inhibit weed growth, making it rather low maintenance come summer, which in turn frees up valuable time for lounging around in deckchairs.

Plant rhubarb crowns in well-drained, weed-free soil, preferably in a place where your plant will catch plenty of sunlight.

Rhubarb plants are hungry fellas, so prepping the soil before planting by digging in plenty of well-rotted manure, ensuring you plant the crown with the growing point at soil level. One of our favourite rhubarb varieties is Timperley Early—a sweet tasting, early cropping plant true to its name.


3. Garlic


It’s easy to grown and has a multitude of culinary uses, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t attempt to grow garlic.

Before thrusting your garlic into the soil, deal out a generous amount of fertilizer to the patch where you plan to plant. Take a bulb and break it into cloves, planting each one 15 cm apart, just below the surface.

Once established, your slim garlic seedlings will be vulnerable to weed invasions, so keep on top of your weeding tasks and carefully hoe between rows during the growing season.

Elephant Garlic is a huge, fist-sized garlic that's a doddle to grow and has a mild, gentle flavour. We like our garlic to pack a punch, so tend to grow the potent and pongy Bella Italiano.


4. Apple trees

When planting apple trees (or indeed any bare-root tree for that matter), wait for a frost free day, then dig a hole at least three times the width of your tree root, ensuring the hole is as deep as the trees root system.

Remember to water the roots of your tree thoroughly before positioning your tree in the hole. Start to backfill the hole, tramping down the soil as you go. Once you’ve filled the hole, give the site a good soaking with two or three bucketfuls of water. Finally, mulch around the base to keep those weeds at bay.

If you want to grow a tasty eating variety, try the self-fertile Worcester Pearmain.

When planting trees on our allotment we had cider making in mind, so we have a mixture of cider apples; specifically Yarlington Mill, Fair Maid of Somerset, Kingston Black, Sweet Coppin and Harry Masters Jersey. We can confirm this range of bittersweet and sharp fruits produces a rich, tasty (and rather potent) brew…


5. Tulips

Whenever we fancy peppering the plot with a dash of colour, tulips are one of our "go to" flowers. Common gardening wisdom dictates that tulip bulbs must be planted before the end of October, but don't worry—December is still fine.

Of course, the later you wait, the greater the chance of the ground being too hard to dig. And the colder it gets, the less inclined you'll be to haul your bulk off the sofa. Plant your tulip bulbs at three times the depth of the bulb, ensuring the nose (or growing end) points upwards.

We’ve been reliably informed that the ‘on trend’ garden colour schemes of 2018 will be earthy, naturalistic colours. Dedicated followers of fashion should go for the velvety purple Queen of the Night, or the elegant and verdant Spring Green.