What to do in the garden this week

A Cornelian cherry. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

A Cornelian cherry. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos - Credit: Archant

From sowing leeks indoors to preparing the soil for spring planting, here’s your essential checklist of what to do in the garden now

Cornus mas

Also known as the Cornelian cherry, this deciduous shrub from southern Europe and west Asia provides interest for much of the year, but really comes into its own in winter, producing clusters of bright yellow flowers which add some pizzazz when everything else is grey. In late summer, it bears red cherry-like edible fruits that can be made into preserves and, in autumn, oval leaves take on a purple tint. Growing up to 15ft tall, Cornus mas prefers a warm, sheltered position in sun or partial shade in well-drained but moist, fertile soil. Good cultivars include ‘Golden Glory’ and ‘Variegata’.

Sowing leeks early

It’s too soon to sow leeks and other vegetables outdoors, but you can make a head start inside by raising plants indoors. Sow seeds in pots of multi-purpose compost, gently soaking them with water and firming them down, before sprinkling a handful of compost on top. The pots can be placed on a warm windowsill or in a heated propagator, ideal conditions for germination, and then hardened off and planted outdoors in their final position when they are around 15cm high.

What to do in the garden this week

:: Prepare the soil for sowing seeds by covering it with polythene sheeting to warm it up

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:: Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries

:: Sprout early seed potatoes for planting out next month

:: Keep off the lawn to prevent it becoming compacted

:: Order plug plants from specialist young plant catalogues or websites

:: Make sure year-round containers haven’t dried out if they’ve been placed by the house over winter and top-dress tubs

:: Protect strawberry plants from the wind and cold with horticultural fleece

:: Plant stored dahlia tubers in compost in a frost-free greenhouse to give them a head start

:: Check greenhouse plants for greenfly and wipe them off with a damp tissue

:: Harden off polyanthus before putting them out when the weather is milder