Gardening Column

By Allotment Co-ordinator and Community Gardener Fleur Handley 

“Winter is coming” as we have all become too used to hearing. Although some of you may say that “winter is here”, is it not actually – I know, could have fooled me!

The nights are drawing increasing closer, the leaves are ablaze with autumnal colours and the wind and rain feature more regularly in our daily lives. It is time to protect your plants and get those maintenance jobs done between downpours as we ready for the shortest day of the year.


  • Move plants into the greenhouse, or into a sheltered spot, but if you can’t, it is worth wrapping plants or pots – bubble wrap or fleece work well.
  • Winter can be a tough time for birds in terms of water and food, so keep those birdfeeders well topped up. If you haven’t got one yet then I highly recommend getting/making one!
  • Clear up fallen leaves, especially from lawns, ponds and beds.
  • Plant out your spring bulbs such as crocuses, daffodils, tulips, etc.


  • Prune soft fruit bushes such as gooseberries, black and redcurrants, blueberries as well as overgrown apple and pears trees – not those trained against walls though. Carrots and peas can still be sown in cold frames and greenhouses.
  • Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbages, sprouts and any remaining root crops.
  • Reduce watering of houseplants.
  • If you are allowed, have a bonfire to burn any waste and cuttings that are not suitable for composting.


  • Clean pots and greenhouses ready for spring.
  • Dig over vacant beds that haven’t been done yet and sow your first vegetable seeds undercover.
  • Start forcing rhubarb.
  • Plan your vegetable crop rotation for the coming year.
  • Chit potato tubers. For this, place potatoes in individual sections of a used egg box and place them on a window sill. 
  • Prune Wisteria and conservatory climbers.

We are always looking for new groups and volunteers at our Let’s Grow Community Allotment based in Springfield Allotments. Please contact me (Fleur) via email at or call us at Knowle West Health Association on 0117 963 9569 if you would like to get involved. All levels and interests welcome!