07:19 Friday 16 November 2012

Winter bird care and jobs to do

Written byBen Smith

Welcome to Garden King's Plant Doctor blog, where our experts discuss and answer all your gardening questions. This week I'm talking about winter birdcare and garden jobs for the weekend/week ahead - we even ahve a voucher for you!

Winter Birdcare

Don't forget about your wild twittering garden friends this Winter. Sadly the season makes it very difficult to find food and maintain adequate fat supplies. It's the greatest test for wild birds and keeping them fed will help them survive the worst weather. Natural food is covered in snow and ice and impossible for birds to get to, for this reason wild birds will seek sanctuary in our gardens. 

Here at Garden King we have the ideal survival kit for wild birds. We stock loads of meal worms, fatballs, peanuts, seeds and grain. As well as our pre-packed delicious treats you could also put out leftover grated cheese, porridge oats, cooked rice, pasta and soft fruit.

Robin in a winter garden

Keep water sources free from freezing and give birds a fresh source of water everyday. Add floating items like twigs and ping pong balls to reduce the risk of water freezing over but DO NOT use antifreeze products as this will poison and is likely to kill birds.

Around the garden its a good idea to put up more nest boxes and rub food bars and fat into the bark of trees to help treecreepers, goldcrests and many other species.

Clean your existing nest boxes, the breeding season is over and your birds will have finished nesting. It's important to get rid of any lurking parasites, fleas, lice and ticks. Make sure you wear some good gloves and tip the contents of your nest boxes into a bin bag. Pour boiling water over the box which will kill any remaining parasites (DO NOT use insecticides or flea powder). Let the box dry out completely and then pop the lid back on and re-hang it in your garden.

As long as you keep up the feeding and watering, your garden visitors will survive the harshest of Winters. Our team are on hand to offer advice and give product recommendations every day - just ask, we're here to help!

Talking about being here to help, we've got a voucher for you - a FREE 6 pack of Suet Fatballs when you make any other purchase in store. All you need to do is print off the voucher below, fill in the details and then redeem at either Garden King Newhall (DE11 0TX) or Garden King Bradley (ST18 9EA).

Garden jobs for the weekend/week ahead

As ever, there are some must do's in your garden to keep it looking great and healthy for the weather to come. If your climbers are at risk of damage, tie them in with twine or soft ties. When using twine, tie them in a figure of eight knot, this will reduce the chance of the shoot rubbing against the supports.

Clear away any plants that have been damaged by the first frosts. As soon as annuals and perennials have been hit by frost - it's time to clear them :-(

Cut back perennials that need a tidy (leaving plants like hydrangeas, penstemons and hardy fuchsias alone as the dead stems help protect the crown of the plant in cold weather). Give your borderline perennials a good mulch to reduce the risk of frost penetrating the crown.

Don't forget to lift and divide vigorous perennials - make sure the perennials you are lifting have adequate old stems to protect the crown from harsh winter weather. Lifting and dividing is ideal when you have a healthy perennial full of growth. You can divide the plant into two (maybe even 3 or 4) smaller plants and spread them around your garden. It's particularly useful for dividing a plant either side of a garden path or archway. Simply dig up the clump and split it in two, then replant each piece into their new positions.

If YOU have any suggestions, questions or comments - feel free to drop us a line (we'd love to hear from you!) You can email plantdoctor@gardenking.co.uk, call us on 01283 550 516, add us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Happy gardening x
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