Ten Jobs for Keeping Warm on Winter Days

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe

Hopefully January brings a month of sunny if cold weather as a welcome change to all the rain we had last the autumn. Crisp sunny days are just what one needs to get into the garden to work off the Christmas excess kilos, progress the laying out of new gardens and prepare established gardens for the Spring.

Luckily the following jobs will keep us warm on the coldest of days.

  1. Get on with the major winter cut back and clean up. What needs doing is explained in Chapter 6.9 of Your Garden in Spain.
  2. Old olive, almond, plum, fig and citrus trees will need heavy remedial prunings. Younger ones and all other fruit trees will require annual prunings to stimulate flowers and sizeable fruit this year. Growing HealthyFruit in Spain details what needs doing.
  3. Large flowering trees often need a major pruning every few years to ensure that they are not too large for the garden while ensuring that they still give sufficient shade in the summer.
  4. If you don’t already have one prepare a raised bed or vegetable plot for sowing/planting up from March onwards. See Chapter 3.5 in Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain which compares eight ways of constructing raised beds.
  5. Unless it’s freezing January is a good month to lay down terraces or paths whether with stone slabs or chippings laid over plastic sheeting.
  6. Ponds and fountains add a special touch to Spanish gardens both by adding the relaxing and cooling sound of running water and for water / bog plants with exotic summer flowers that need no watering. Now is a good time to dig one out but make it twice as big as your first plan. We have enlarged both ours to ensure that the fish can still be seen when water lilies are fully leaved.
  7. Hedges are due for a thorough trim as part of the winter cutback.
  8. Compost heaps need turning and filling with shredded prunings and weeds from the winter cut back. Last years fully composted heap can now be worked into flower and vegetable beds and used for mulching shrubs and trees. Composting in Spain is not as easy as in Northern Europe so see the relevant chapter in each of our books for useful tips on how to make them work in a hot climate.
  9. Major branches cut from trees need cutting, stacking and drying ready for burning next winter in the wood stove.
  10. If you are an experienced builder how about building a garden kitchen ready for the Easter Monday paella and summer barbecues.

Suspect that’s more than enough winter work for even the most enthusiastic gardener handyman! Happy gardening in 2009 from the results of your efforts.

Clodagh and Dick have now lived and gardened in Spain for twenty five years. They have collated much of their experience and ideas for your convenience in a trilogy of books titled Your Garden in Spain, Growing healthy Fruit in Spain and Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain. They are available from many bookshops and websites. You can also go immediately to ‘Our Books’ and click through to the publishers site at the end of the description of each of the books.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe January 2008.