Gardening with Brian Kidd – your jobs for this weekend

Winter-flowering heather in pots.
Winter-flowering heather in pots.
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Plan ahead and prepare the ground for summer cabbages.

•Tar oil winter wash for fruit trees was withdrawn some while ago which is most unhelpful. But there are alternatives. Look out for winter wash for fruit tress in an organic form. Growing Success is a name with which you might be familiar.

•For instant colour, why not consider winter-flowering heathers in pots. Planted now they will give your garden a glow during this winter. None of the heathers likes chalk, so plant them in a raised area or in a container of acid compost. The best is John Innes ericaceous mix. Ordinary John Innes’ composts are not suitable for heathers.

•Plan ahead. After digging the area where summer cabbages will be planted, scatter on a thick dressing of garden lime but don’t apply this where other crops are to be grown.

•If you buy a Christmas tree with a root, pot it in potting garden centre compost. It’s much easier to handle and the tree is more likely to survive. Remember too, if you buy a small one already in a pot and there is moss growing on the surface of the compost, it is far more likely to survive after Christmas. A lot of people think it is a pity to buy a Christmas tree which has no roots because the poor thing has been sacrificed. If you feel that way, buy an artificial one like me! If however you buy a Christmas tree without roots, buy a water retainer so the trunk can absorb water during the festival. Cut an inch off the bottom of the trunk before using the water retainer to reduce needle-drop. Top up the water retainer just before going to bed but make sure the tree lights are unplugged, we don't want any readers electrocuted.

•Blackbirds are eating holly berries as if there is no tomorrow. Pick some as soon as possible if you want berries for indoor displays, otherwise you will need to buy some of those which are on wires and they have to be twisted on to indoor decorations. I don’t mind having to do this because the berries are natural food for the lovely blackbirds.

•Are you going to make a holly wreath with a red ribbon to go on your front door? This job is made easier if you buy a circle of oasis at the garden centre. Simply soak the oasis circle for an hour and then thrust in the fresh holly, ivy and mistletoe with baubles and the ribbon and everyone will feel welcome into your home.

•On the mundane side, try to get some more digging done on the vegetable patch. Leave it rough so the frosts will break down the clods.

•This is a good time to undertake fruit tree pruning, particularly apple trees. Buy a good pruning saw and secateurs and remove all branches which are crossing and scraping.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​