Early winter checklist

Winter's creeping up on us, but there's still plenty you can do to make the very best of your garden

Warming harvests
Stay on top of harvesting root vegetables such as carrots, turnips and parsnips – and enjoy a bit of a workout in the process! Parsnips will improve with every frost as they become sweeter. Other root veg can be covered with straw to prevent the soil from freezing solid, making lifting easier in extreme cold.

Winter tubs
If you’ve not bothered with colourful bedding so far this winter, now might be a good time to start. Violas, pansies and primulas will all add a splash of much-needed colour over the coming months and need very little attention once planted.

New additions
Any period when the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged is a good time to plant new trees and shrubs, particularly bare-root versions which are widely available over the colder months. Check on newly planted specimens regularly, gently firming back in any that have loosened due to wind or frost. Prune fruit: many fruit trees and bushes can be pruned any time they remain dormant. Gooseberries, for example, can have unproductive stems cut down to where they emerge and any awkwardly placed stems removed, encouraging vigorous new growth.

Clear view
Greenhouses will be more effective if they let in more of that precious light. Take any lull in outside gardening jobs as an opportunity to thoroughly clean the glass in your greenhouse.

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