Today marks the start of meteorological winter, and there’s certainly a chill in the air. In fact, the Met Office has forecast widespread frost and fog across the UK this week, even snow (in Scotland!).
To be fair, we have had ‘above average’ autumnal temperatures for a while now, and my garden appears to be a tad confused. For example, a hebe that should have finished flowering in October is still going strong, and some of my spring bulbs are already trying to make an appearance. So a drop in temperature might help to get things back on track.
Fish feeding tips
Meanwhile, my pond fish, who seem to be constantly at the surface in begging mode, continue to glare in disgust at me as I feed them wheatgerm sticks rather than tasty fish flakes. But it’s for their own good!
As temperatures drop you need to start preparing your pond fish for the winter ahead. It’s a good idea to buy a pond thermometer and keep an eye on the water temperature.
It’s fine to feed your fish on high-protein foods in warmer weather, but when the water temperature drops below 10 degrees you should switch to a wheatgerm-based food and be careful not to overfeed them as the temperature continues to fall. When it falls below 4 degrees it’s time to stop feeding them until Spring.
Fish are not capable of proper digestion in cold water and proteins are much harder to digest than other nutrients. Any food that they don’t digest will rot in their stomachs, sending bacteria into the bloodstream and killing them. So I guess I’ll just have to put up with the dirty looks!
Preparing the garden for winter
I confess, I haven’t quite put the garden to bed for the winter yet. I’ve done a fair bit of tidying up, but not covering up, so I’m going to have to get my skates on (hopefully not literally).
Here are my top 5 jobs this week (which I probably should have done last week!):
- Cut down the perennials that (a) don’t provide winter structure and (b) don’t provide seeds for the birds to ground level
- Lift and store dahlia tubers
- Add a thick winter layer of mulch to the borders to protect perennials and improve the soil
- Move frost-hardy pots nearer the house for added protection
- Empty, clean and store terracotta pots in the shed
Oh yes, and one other thing …. find my thermals!