Winter Jobs & Growing Guide
Explore winter gardening in the UK: From hardy greens to frost-tolerant fruits, discover practical tips for growing fresh produce even when the temperatures drop.
Sowing & Planting
- Plant new trees and bushes. Don’t plant if the ground is waterlogged or frozen.
- Plant shallots and garlic in mild areas with well-drained soil.
- Protect new sowings and crops still in the ground from mice.
- Place mice controls near stored fruit and vegetables as well.
- Slugs can still pose a threat, and slug controls are necessary now, as always.
- Protect brassicas from pigeons using cloches, netting or fleece.
- Remove any yellowed leaves on Brussels sprouts and other brassicas. This will prevent the development of grey mould and brassica downy mildew.
- Remove all remaining plant debris from the vegetable plot. Do not compost any diseased material.
- Remove any rotten stored fruit.
- Deal with apple and pear canker.
- Deal with bitter pit in stored apples.
- Tie in new tiers of espaliers.
- Thin out congested spurs of restricted fruit trees.
- Prune apples, pears, quinces and medlars, as well as autumn raspberries, red and white currants and gooseberries.
- If hard frosts are forecast, cover trenches of stored root crops with a protective layer of cardboard so you can still access your crops to eat and enjoy during cold snaps.
- Stake any Brussels sprouts stalks that look leggy and vulnerable to wind rock.
- There’s still time to force chicory. Pot them up and position them in a dark warm place. The tasty chicons will appear in three to six weeks.
- Clear late-season debris off the vegetable plots, and compost it. Bin or burn any diseased material.
- Clean and store bamboo canes in the shed or other dry place to ensure they’re still in good condition for next year. Broken or rotted ones can be shortened, where possible, for re-use.
Sowing & Planting
- Plant bare-root fruit and nut trees and bushes, as long as the soil isn’t frozen.
- Broad beans
- sow in pots and place in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.
- Sow seed indoors for early crops, eg:
• summer brassicas (cabbages and cauliflowers etc.)
• salad onions
- Check apples for canker and prune out.
- Remove all remaining plant debris from the vegetable plot. Do not compost any diseased material such as blight-infected potatoes, onions suffering from white rot and any crops with rust. Burn or bin the diseased material.
- Brassicas - protect from pigeons + check for grey mould + downy mildew.
- Apply winter washes to fruit trees and bushes.
- Ensure tree stakes and ties are firm and sound.
- Prune: • Apples • Pears • Currants • Medlars • Gooseberries • Autumn raspberries
- Prepare beds by adding mulch (info on this at the bottom of this info sheet). If the weather is reliably dry and frosty, leave heavy soils exposed - the frosts will kill pests and improve soil structure by the continual freezing and thawing of soil water.
Sowing & Planting
- Plant fruit trees, bushes, canes and vines if the soil isn’t frozen.
- From mid-February onwards sow tomato and cucumber seed for greenhouse growing.
- Plant out garlic and shallots in light soils only; heavy soils need longer to warm up.
- If you have light (sandy) soil and live in a mild part of the UK, you can sow broad beans, carrots, parsnips, early beetroot, salad onions, lettuces, radish, peas, spinach and summer cabbages outside under cloches. Otherwise it’s best to wait until the soil has begun to warm up in March or April. - Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers.
- Brassicas - protect from pigeon damage.
- Pick yellowing leaves off Brussels sprouts and other brassicas promptly, to prevent spread of grey mould and brassica downy mildew.
- Remove all remaining plant debris from the vegetable plot.
- Last chance to winter wash trees and bushes.
- Clear the ground under trees and bushes of weeds.
- Cover outdoor, soil-grown strawberries with cloches for an earlier crop.
- Tip back summer-fruiting raspberry canes to 15cm (6in) above their top support wire.
- Last chance to winter prune: • Apples • Pears • Medlars • Quinces • Red currants • White currants • Raspberries - prune back newly planted raspberries back to 30cm (12in) • Established autumn-fruiting raspberries.
Veg: -Prepare seedbeds
Learn more: RHS Allotment Journal (book) RHS Gardening Through the Year: Month-by-month Planning Instructions and Inspiration (book) https://www.rhs.org.uk/ https://www.almanac.com/gardening/tips https://www.countrylife.co.uk/gardens/gardening-tips/month-month-checklist-garden-2021-209949 https://www.gardenersworld.com/ https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/Resources/Activity/Get-the-Soil-Ready-for-Planting https://hub.suttons.co.uk/gardening-advice/monthly-gardening-jobs https://www.gardenhealth.com/advice/monthly-jobs https://www.gardenninja.co.uk/no-dig-gardening-for-beginners-charles-dowding-explains-togarden-ninja/ https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/allotments/making-the-most-of-your-plot https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/beneficial-insects https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/mulches https://www.thegardenwebsite.com/vegetable-gardening-organic.html https://www.growingwithnature.org/chop-and-drop/#:~:text=Chop%2Dand%2Ddrop%20is%20basically,die%20back%20to%20the%20ground. https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/2019/06/11/chop-and-drop-gardening-sheet-composting/ https://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/chop-and-drop-mulch-and-why-you-should-use-it/ https://www.rhs.org.uk/soil-composts-mulches/mulch