Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Winter is the perfect time to complete gardening chores

Don't let the cold, wet, dreary weather stand in the way of your gardening – with a bit of imagination, you'll be able to find plenty to keep you occupied during the winter months.

One chore that's well worth completing when the conditions are less than ideal is checking up on your garden sundries. Every gardener relies on a few useful items, from gloves and labels to canes and string, but equally it's all too common to discover that when you actually need them, they're nowhere to be found.

Products like these will be widely available in garden centres once the new year comes around, so keep track of what you've got stored in your greenhouses or sheds and make a shopping list in advance.

Winter also presents the perfect opportunity to give sheds a well-deserved clean. Any metal tools should be given the once-over with a damp and slightly oily cloth, while boiled linseed oil should be applied to wooden handles to treat and preserve them.

Another job we tend to put off is cleaning our old pots and seed trays. Rather than leaving it all until sowing time and finding yourself in a mad rush, why not get it done at a time when the poor weather prevents you doing some of your preferred jobs around the garden?

Pots should be scrubbed with a stiff brush, using warm water and household detergent to get rid of any caked-on dirt.

If you're in a hurry this wash will probably suffice, but once they're clean of the worst dirt, pots can also be soaked in garden disinfectant. The cold winter weather can mean disinfectant works a little slower than usual, so leave pots soaking for a few days to make sure all spores are killed off.

For the disinfectant to penetrate the accumulated layers of grime on unwashed pots, they may even need to be soaked for several weeks.

Finally, make sure you give your newly cleaned pots and feed trays a good rinse before you use them again.