First frosts

by Andy Cawthray, 5th January 2017

November - it rarely passes without a cold snap, and often it’s the last gasp for tender plants in the garden


Andy Cawthray is a writer, gardener and poultry breeder based on the Welsh Borders. Extracts from his monthly column in Welsh Border Life appear here on


Ask Andy

Q: Why is it important to rotate my vegetable crops each season?

A: Moving crops to di erent parts of the plot reduces the possibility of soil pests for that particular crop. It’s important, though, to keep and rotate your crops in similar botanical groups such as: Brassicas (brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflowers, broccoli); onions (garlic, leeks and shallots); root vegetables like potatoes; and legumes (beans and peas). If you don’t have the space to rotate, however, it’s not the end of the world – you just need to be extra vigilant and tackle problems quickly when they occur. 

Got a gardening conundrum? Ask Andy by clicking here


Plant Lover

Seasonal plants widely available in local garden centres. This month, Winter Daffodil (Sternbergia lutea), pictured above

The name is the giveaway. Winter daffodil provides a wonderful splash of bright yellow and vibrant green that directly reflects the colours of its namesake at the other end of the gardening year.

An ideal plant for growing en masse in a carpet-like formation, they prefer a sheltered but sunny location. As a native of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean, poor summers or harsh winters won’t deliver the best of results. However, carefully locating them near a wall or in the wind shadow of a building will improve flowering.

The bulbs should be planted five inches deep and five inches apart, but the soil must be well draining. Mix sand or gravel into the bed to assist with drainage beforehand.

The soil itself needs to be moist, but not soggy, though I have seen it growing pretty successfully in clay soils.

When winter daffodil is happy in its location it’ll naturalise and spread, but adding more bulbs every few years will help maintain the ‘population’. 


Top Tip

Most of your summer flowering plants will have died back by the end of this month. If you were planning on splitting and moving them, now’s the time to do it. 


For more gardening advice, comment, products and books, see Andy's Country Garden column in Welsh Border Life every month. To subscribe from just £5.99, click here

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