Here is the fourth set of my Garden notes..for the other sets click 'Label below and scroll down.
Wildlife groups recommend feeding birds through winter & especially spring as gardens are poor substitutes for truly wild habitats - if you feed then feed regularly & provide water in cold spells - try suspending pieces of fat from canes above rose bushes to entice blue tits to eat over-wintering greenfly - but protect cabbage family with netting against the birds - see here more re fat traps. Gardeners World recommended adding chilli powder to your nuts if squirrels are a problem!
Dig a trench 30 centimetres wide & deep where runner beans are to be grown next year - fill with kitchen waste as it becomes available, covering each addition with soil - in winter this is better than using waste in compost heaps where vermin may be a problem
Collect strawy material to rot down in compost heap for spring use & turn semi-rotten compost heaps
Fork over seed beds on heavy soils - leave for frost to break down over winter
In an unheated greenhouse pot sown carrots & mangetout can be ready for April
Brush snow off trees & shrubs if they are in danger of breaking but otherwise leave plants covered as the snow acts as a protection against severe cold
Winter prune deciduous shrubs removing dead, diseased or overcrowded wood & a few of the old shoots
Remove yellow leaves from brassicas - earth up stalks to protect from frosts & where necessary stake plants
Use a large inflatable ball in the pond to prevent damage to the lining by allowing expansion if iced over - if iced over melt it every few days using boiling water in a dustbin lid to release any build up of harmful gases
Mizuna sown in august should now be ready to pick through until March
Finish harvesting apples & pears before the risk of hard frost or winter gales & lift remaining root vegetables - parsnips benefit from a touch of light frost but should not be left in all winter - examine stored fruit & vegetables regularly & remove any signs of rotting
Last chance to sow broad beans to get an early start next spring & reduce black fly
When frost blackens dahlia foliage lift tubers & store in a frost free place
Clear up debris & make regular slug & snail hunting sorties - try to encourage their natural predators like hedgehogs, frogs, toads, slow-worms and ground beetles