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1st to 7th

Sow Sweet Peas

The very best sweet peas come from those sown in early autumn but so often this is forgotten at that time of year. The second best time to sow sweet peas is now in early January.

Soak sweet peas in water for 24 hours before sowing them. This will help speed up the germination process and give you healthier and stronger plants.

This should be done under some form of cover at this time of year such as in a greenhouse, under a cold frame or even on a windowsill or conservatory.

Sow two seeds per small pot using standard potting compost. Just cover the seeds with a small layer of compost. Make sure the compost is damp by placing each pot in a bowl of water for 3 minutes. It's best to cover the pot to exclude light at first.

As soon as the seedlings emerge (check every day), remove the cover to ensure they have good light and ventilation.

When the plants are around 10cm (4ins) high they should be planted in their final growing positions. This is normally around March or April time. When you do this, at the same time pinch out the growing tip just above the top set of leaves. This will encourage bushier and healthier plants.

Check Shrubs and Roses
Strong winds can easily loosen plants and shrubs, especially those planted last autumn. Check them and re-firm them into the soil if they have become loosened.

Using cloches or frames extends the growing period for many vegetables by around three weeks at both ends of the season. Click here to go to our article on how to use these valuables forms of plant protection. Now is the time to order cloches if you don't already own one.

One of the great lazy gardening tasks at this time of year is looking through the seed catalogues. If you haven't ordered them them simply browse through the internet, the really, really lazy way to order seeds! Click here for our recommendations for vegetable seed in 2007.

Now is a very good time to apply manure to soil for the coming year's growing season. Dig it in well now and it will have partly rotted by the time you come to plant vegetables.