Preparation for spring
In the garden there is little to do, but you can start to set the new vintage. It is essential to consult seed catalogues. We will find new interesting introductions or new mixtures, to try now. In particular, it is good to focus on the annuals that, being born in this period, will bloom until at least June.
This type of plant is useful in many circumstances; we can cover “holes” due to young or underdeveloped perennials, we can use them as a soil cover or, thanks to the long re-flowering, to ensure a fresh appearance to the flowerbeds. Let us remember that, whilst shrubs, trees and perennials represent the load-bearing structure of a garden, the annual ones are, on the contrary, the eclectic part, which gives a new look every year to flower-beds, borders and pots.
Once we buy the envelopes, we have to start sowing. Working already in January we will be able to have well-developed seedlings in mid-March. To obtain good results we must guarantee heat, humidity and light. The ideal is to have a heated greenhouse, but for optimal germination also the heating mats work very well. At home we can place the trays on a radiator (possibly on a sill, to have more light) or, but only for the first stages, on a refrigerator (using the heat produced by the engine).
We use a fine soil, covering the seeds with a layer of vermiculite. We keep the humidity with the help of a transparent film, but we air from time to time. Let’s remember to remove the plastic and expose to intense light when germination has just taken place to avoid the “spinning” of the stems.
In this period there is only to supervise the protections prepared previously. It is very important to intervene in the case of heavy snowfall by gently shaking the branches to free them from the blanket to avoid breaking.
In the North, to guarantee some colour, we can insert, in a sheltered position, vases with heather or calluna, helleborus niger, pansies. In the southern regions and in the temperate areas, it is the moment of maximum splendour of the citrus fruits: in addition to the plants in full earth, usually kept in the orchard, in these areas it is advisable to create big pots with oranges, lemons and fortunelle.
Towards the end of the month, the camellias also begin to bloom: to preserve it, let’s protect them from any waves of frost.
Let’s remember, from time to time, to lightly water the pots that we have repaired inside or in the greenhouse: we will avoid that the earthen bread dries completely.
The garden in January: We build mangers for birds
In this period the garden may seem sad and uninteresting: with a little effort it can instead become a point of extraordinary attraction. From December to March, in fact, the small birds are in serious difficulty and tend to approach the houses to find shelter and some ‘food. We can, with very little expense (on the internet you can find many ideas) set up beautiful feeders.
Let’s then fill them with seeds (sunflower seeds are very well prepared), peanuts, muesli, sultanas, pieces of panettone. In a few days you will see them come alive more and more: they will arrive tits, titties, robins, greenbacks, redstorms … we will help them to overcome this difficult time and we will learn to appreciate their beauty and liveliness.
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