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Gardening Jobs for Early 2011

 The early part of the year can be both exciting and frustrating for gardeners. There are signs of new life stirring everywhere but bad weather often makes working outdoors unpleasant or even impossible. There’s no point in trying to fight against nature. The best plan is to do what you can outside on mild days, and reserve indoor gardening tasks for when it’s cold or wet. 

·        Check garden walls, fences, trellis and other structures for storm damage. Attend to any repairs as soon as possible before March winds make the damage worse. For anything that’s beyond repair, or clearly near the end of its useful life, get a quotation for a sturdy replacement from a reputable local landscape gardening company. 

·        Pelargoniums (geraniums) and fuchsias that have been overwintered in a dry, dormant state can be brought back to life now by gradually introducing a little water. If you kept them green and growing indoors they should be producing new shoots that are perfect to use as cuttings – the cheapest and easiest way to increase your stock. 

·        Strong winds can dry out soil surprisingly quickly. During windy weather, as well as checking that young trees, shrubs and perennials are still firmly planted, you might need to water them. 

·        Early salad crops can be sown in a greenhouse or under cloches in the garden. 

·        If frosts are forecast protect buds and new shoots on tender plants by covering with horticultural fleece, bubble wrap or sheets of newspaper in the late afternoon. Remember to remove these coverings the next morning so fresh air can circulate. 

·        Sprout seed potatoes by placing them in shallow boxes or trays and exposing them to daylight. They need to be kept somewhere cool but frost-free such as a shed or unheated porch. 

·        Many seeds can be sown indoors now, but before you buy new seeds check any that were left over from last year. Most commercial seed has a use-by date on the packet but you might also have seed that you saved yourself or was given by a friend. The germination rates of old seeds vary greatly depending on the species and storage conditions. To save time and disappointment sprinkle a few seeds on some damp cotton wool or kitchen towel and leave in a warm place. If most of them germinate you can confidently sow the rest in the normal way. If few show any signs of life it’s time to invest in fresh seed. 

·        As soon as large clumps of herbaceous perennials begin to show new growth they can be lifted and divided. Transplant the smaller pieces where they are needed in your own garden or swap them with gardening friends.  

·        If you are planning a DIY landscaping project this year, such as laying a new lawn or giving your patio a makeover, buy good quality materials and hire tools from a professional garden services company that is willing to give you the added benefit of expert advice for free.