January jobs and tips for your garden
It’s usually fairly quiet this month apart from perhaps starting to raise plants from seed and trying to keeping the garden looking good. So why not take time to relax in the warmth of your home. Even though we are still in winter, this month is a good time to get your bulbs, plants and seeds ordered. Always check stakes, ties and supports are still working especially after any severe weather.
• Shred your Christmas tree and add it to compost bins. Alternatively the stripped down branches make
great pea sticks.
• To let in more light, the greenhouse roof can be washed down removing dirt and grime. It is also a good
idea to empty and clean water-butts. Trays and pots can be cleaned ready for use. Another idea is for tools
and equipment such as lawnmowers to be cleaned and serviced.
• Any areas of ground that are presently empty can be dug over forking in plenty of rotted manure or
compost, should conditions prove wet a polythene sheet can be used to cover the area helping to keep any
further rain off, then once the soil has dried out digging can begin again.
• Disperse worm casts in lawns.
• Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds.
• Make a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect form peach leaf curl.
• All leaves that have fallen, along with the ones under bushes and hedges, should be cleared away as they
give protection for snails and slugs during the winter months. Also remember that falling leaves can clog up
greenhouse gutters. All the raked up leaves may be left to rot down in a leaf bin.
• To improve drainage and reduce waterlogging, stand planted patio pots up on feet so that they are slightly
raised from direct contact with the ground. Also during very cold spells move them to a sheltered position.
• Avoid walking on your lawn when it is blanketed by heavy frost or snow, as this will damage the grass
• Seed potatoes should be stored in trays, in a light, cool, frost-free place to chit ready for planting in March
or April. Sowings can still be made of broad bean Aquadulce Claudia and The Sutton (under cloches) if
conditions are suitable. In the greenhouse, sowings can be made of aubergine and summer maturing
• In colder parts of the country, and for exhibition, sowings of onion should be made in the greenhouse,
harden off the plants in March prior to planting outdoors in April.
• Prepare a deep trench, for where runner beans are to be grown next summer, by digging out and filling
with rotted compost from your compost bin, plus during winter you can carry on adding kitchen waste. Then
in late spring cover with soil and sow your beans on top.
• Harvest parsnips and leeks.
• Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season.
• Continue to plant raspberries and other soft cane fruit, however, if soil conditions are unsuitable when you
receive your plants, plant them temporarily in a spare piece of land or pot to prevent the roots drying out,
until there is an improvement.
• Established fruit bushes and trees should be pruned.
• Remove any old stems to avoid over-crowding in the middle of white currants and red currants. Also the
side-shoots should be pruned so there is just one bud.
• Dormant clumps of early rhubarb should have buckets or forcing jars placed over them which will
encourage stems to form giving an early harvest.
• Nectarines and peaches that are being grown in pots should be moved under cover for the winter, such as
in an unheated greenhouse. Keeping rain off these trees will assist in preventing the spread of peach leaf
curl disease. The early flowers will also be protected from frost.
• Prune apple and pear trees.
• Start forcing rhubarb
• Leave plums, cherries and apricots unpruned until the summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make
them susceptible to silver leaf infections.
• Prune blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework.
Trees and shrubs:
• Brush heavy snow of off hedges and conifers to prevent the branches from snapping out under its weight.
• New plantings should be protected from the wind by erecting a shelter around them.
• Move container shrubs being over-wintered into a cold greenhouse, cold frame or you could even use
bubble plastic and plant jackets/giant fleece bags to wrap or place your pots in as they will all give
• Fleece or netting should be used to protect vulnerable plants from severe frost.
• Tree ties and stakes should be checked for loosening.
• Use wire netting to protect outdoor seedbeds, pots and trays from damage by squirrels.
• Glue bands can be applied around tree trunks to control pests such as the winter moth.
• To prolong the flowering period of winter-flowering houseplants avoid droughts and any dry places such as
near fires or radiators, by keeping them in good light and a cool position. To prevent disease remove dead
leaves from foliage of plant. Remove any dead flowers on cyclamen and azaleas to prolong their flowering
period. Daffodils and hyacinths can be force fed to build up bulbs. Prior to bulbs appearing spread mulch
over the flower borders and also around shrubs.
•Hippeastrum bulbs can be planted in free-draining compost and placed somewhere warm, e.g. shelf over a
radiator, encouraging strong root development along with flowering. Do not leave them standing in water.
•Bulbs, corms and tubers that are being kept in store should be checked regularly for signs of deterioration