Garden and allotment jobs in January!

Garden and allotment jobs in January!

Posted by Dennis the Gardener on 4th Jan 2016

Jobs for the garden in January

January is normally one of the coldest months of the gardening calendar, wet, windy, and uninviting..  Yet there’s still an abundance of jobs that can be tackled to help us prepare for Spring, here are a few pointers in how to keep your garden looking beautiful and inviting in the cold and dark month of January.

Check your stakes and ties and other supports for damage, things such as tree roots at the base can cause movement and loosen up over time resulting in trees and plants moving and leaning in undesired positions.  Also check any plant fleeces to make sure they are secured after the strong winds.

Please keep feeding the birds, don’t worry about how much garden space you have.  Especially in winter and in cities as urbanisation is making it harder for birds to find natural food sources.  

For more information the RSPB website has some great ideas on how to give nature a home in your garden.

Now is a great time to plant seeds such as begonia and pelargonium if you use a heater in your greenhouse, just do remember to ventilate the greenhouse on warmer days towards the end of the month.

Sweet peas!  Plant more now!  The sweet peas that you may have sown earlier in autumn can be potted on.  If you have a high shelf then this is an ideal place as they will get more natural light.

Some plant seeds need a frost to help them germinate, alpine plants, some shrubs and of course our native trees are good examples.  ‘Native trees’ are species that have occurred naturally in the UK since the last Ice Age.

Prune your hellebores (also known as the Christmas or Lenten rose) that flower from the base to expose the flowers.

Watch out and keep an eye open for leaf spot which can be a problem on old foliage of hellebores.

Start to cut back grasses and other perennials that are left over for winter interest.  You can take root cuttings such as perennial poppies, mullein and phiox.

Check for crown rot sclerotinia (fungus/white mold), Delphinium black blotch on died down perennials and check stored bulbs for signs of rot and remove affected bulbs.

Also keep an eye out for antirrhinum rust, this like other diseases will lay dormant over the winter and re-infect plants when they come up next year.  If this happens it may be necessary to replant with new plants in another part of the garden.

Plan ahead!  If it’s too cold, windy or wet outside then think about your garden and spring planting!  Bulbs, bedding and perennials.

Jobs for the allotment in January

An allotment is for life, not just for Christmas! :)

January is a good time to clear the plot of veg that has gone over and not eatable or salvageable.  Don’t worry too much about soil preparation as clearing the plot is more important and will help to avoid and prevent any diseases later on.  It will also make it easier for digging in February as the plot will be clear.

Pick any remaining sprouts, parsnips and leeks if they haven’t been water or frost damaged.  Draw up soil around the base up to the first set of leaves on your winter cabbage and Brussel sprouts which will help them on windy days.

Check on stored fruit and veg and remove any that are bad.  Use what you can of that which is going over, if necessary store separately to try and keep the rest as fresh as possible.

On warmer January days towards the end of the month make sure you keep an eye on your cloches, cold frames and greenhouses and vent accordingly, just remember to close in the early to mid-afternoon to protect them from the frost and cold.

Dig up your rhubarb and divide, leaving some on top to get frosted.  Any crowns that are left you should cover with a turned up bucket or plant pot, cover the hole in the plant pot to force your plant and with a little luck you will have rhubarb in late February.

Toward the end of January you can plant soft fruit bushes, but only if the ground is frost free.  Spray with garlic winter wash on a fine day but don’t do it on a frosty day.  This can wait for February but it does depend on the weather.  You can also use garlic greenhouse candles to help fumigate your greenhouse, it’s a much better way to do this than using nasty sulphur candles which used to be popular.

Finally, if you haven’t already then apply some linseed oil to wooden handles and other garden tools to extend their life and get them ready for the next season, and also to save future expenses!

That's it for now, see you in February!