Gardening: Jobs for the coming week, with Brian Kidd

This week we’re looking at tree-pruning and seed-sowing.

Now is the perfect time to plant shallots.
Now is the perfect time to plant shallots.

• Plant shallots. This doesn’t have to be done if you are enjoying doing other things but they are best planted in December or January. If the soil is wet, fork over the surface, cover with cloches and leave the ends of the cloches open to allow the wind to dry the soil.

• Keep an eye out for adverts in connection with garden centre sales. One local garden centre will be advertising 20 per cent off everything shortly.

• This is an excellent time to reduce the height of many trees. Before starting work, look carefully at the shape of the tree and prune so that you keep it good-looking. Buy a proper pruning saw. This will be sharp which means you are less likely to have an accident.

• Think ahead, in January it is possible to start seed-sowing, think about buying a soil-warming cable if there is electricity in the greenhouse. These cables are very safe and easy to install. There are instructions in the pack and they start at less than £30.

• Paraffin is now more expensive than electricity so having electricity installed professionally in the greenhouse is worthwhile and the running cost is cheaper than paraffin because electricity can be thermostatically controlled. If you rely on paraffin, use the heater to warm just a small part of the greenhouse so a small area can be kept warmer. Divide the greenhouse using polythene bubbled film. This is about £1.10 a metre and will pay for itself in two seasons.

• Don’t forget to feed the birds. You will get a great deal of pleasure when different species pay you a visit. If you throw out bread, keep it in an open place so cats are less likely to catch the birds. If you think there are only common birds around, have a look at the various bird foods there are at garden centres and you will be surprised how they will attract birds you may not have ever seen in the middle of town.