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This is the time of year we all start making our resolutions for the New Year and gardeners are no exception.

01:00 Thu 03rd Jan 2002 |

Q. OK, where shall we start

A. Only the most perfect gardener (has such a thing been invented ) does everything in the garden when they should. For instance, how many of us kick ourselves every year for not putting our winter, spring or summer bulbs in on time or missing out on new seed varieties because we left it too late to order the catalogues

Winter is a good example. Our natural inclination is to stay in front of the fire when the temperatures dip but there are lots of useful things we could be doing that will save time later on and allow us to concentrate on the gardening when then spring comes.

Structural work like digging paths and erecting fences or pergolas makes satisfying work while the rest of the garden is dormant. And if we don't venture outside during the winter we won't notice frost damage to favourite plants that needs to be addressed before it can have serious repercussions.

The best organised gardeners keep a forward planning diary. We often remember something that needs to be done or changes we want to make in advance but forget all about it when the time comes. Whatever your method, why not think of ways you could stop having to play catch up gardening all the time.

Q.� What about plants

A.� Many gardeners have particular favourites and try and grow them even when they know they aren't suitable for their gardens, be it the soil, hardiness, aspect etc. If you have such a plant that fails regularly bite the bullet and don't buy it this year. Instead set yourself the challenge of finding a good, close, alternative that will flourish.

Garden centres and nurseries love the millions of us who can't help loading up with impulse buys even though there is no room to put them anywhere. In the absence of Plantaholics Anonymous, why not try and resolve to make a list of the plants you want and need and stick to it.

Q.� What about how we run the garden

A.� It is a common theme, but every year more and more gardeners vow to be more organic. There is now overwhelming evidence that the continuous use of herbicides and pesticides is bad for the soil and wildlife.

If you haven't already got one get or make a compost bin or heap and start recycling your kitchen and garden waste. The end product is good for the garden and helps keep the weeds down if spread in early spring.

And why not look into things like complimentary plant to attract natural predators for pests like aphid or using nematodes or other alternatives to pellets to keep the slug and snail populations down.

Q.� Anything else

A.� We can sometimes get so absorbed in our own gardens that we forget how much there is to see the other side of the garden gate.

It is the 75th anniversary of the National Garden Scheme this year so why not take some time off to look at the amazing diversity of gardens there are in your area or further a field. It is not just an interesting day out but also a good way to get inspiration for your garden too.

If you've got a question about your home or garden, click here.

By Tom Gard

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