Garden Diary - January
January is a hard month for knowing what to do in your garden, with a lot of jobs being dependent on the weather. You will be more limited on what jobs you can undertake. In our diary we’ll cover all the possibilities though, whether you are having a warmer January or if you are waiting for the last of the frost to thaw out. We’ve got you covered.
Maintenance & Protection
A lot of your time gardening in January will come down to maintaining your garden and protecting both your plants and structures from the hardness of the remaining winter months. Along with cleaning up any damage that has been caused so far.
Let's start with the easier jobs, like moving dormant plants to more sheltered spots and removing any fallen leaves or other debris from your plants. If you have a greenhouse now is also the time to remove any broken pots or old soil/compost and you can prepare it for spring by providing ventilation, shading and heating. You will also want to clear away any soggy or collapsed stems of your perennials and compost them as this will help them grow in the spring. Go through your tubers and bulbs and make sure that they haven’t completely dried, if some are looking a bit parched then you can give them a small amount of water.
Next you will want to move any potted Peaches and Camellias inside or into a greenhouse to avoid leaf curl disease. You should regularly check over your stored away plants for any signs of pests, bugs or aphids, removing them and any damaged parts of your plant as needed. Do the same for stored crops, discarding any which have signs of rot. Help your shrubs, hedges and other plants to grow by sprinkling multi-purpose fertiliser along their bases. This is also the ideal time to remove any weeds and roots from your garden borders, by digging over the gaps; you can also use a weed killer if needed. Make sure that netting is in place over brassicas, such as cabbages, Brussel Sprouts, etc to protect from pests.
Now we are going to move onto maintenance for your garden, not directly related to your plants. Starting with birds, birds need a lot of energy for spring so it’s a good idea to start putting out more high energy bird feed. It is also the perfect time for putting up bird boxes, the best locations being sheltered spots, such as under trees or on walls. Make sure to also keep any bird baths topped up with fresh water regularly and melt any ice with warm water. Remember to keep your bird feeders clean, emptying out their contents and cleaning off any residue if needed. You can also find many different kinds of cleaning sprays that are safe for birds.
It is also a great time to give your gardening tools a maintenance check, this includes items such as lawnmowers, hand tools, hedge cutters etc. For your powered tools, this could be as simple as cleaning them and then oiling their metal components or you could go the full monty and get them serviced by a professional. For simple hand tools this can be as easy as cleaning them, then sharpening them and finally treating any party parts with a suitable metal oil.
Furthermore you will want to start clearing your paths, patios, decking, steps and garden structures of any leaves, algae and moss. Then you can do some repairs such as repairing wobbly or damaged fences or other wooden structures, remember to use a wood protective treatment agent on a dry day, to help protect them from the elements and against rot. Check your greenhouse and shed guttering for any debris and remove it to allow your rain water to flow more freely and into any water barrels.
Encouraging Plant Growth & Flowering
With spring fast approaching you are going to want to encourage your plants to grow and some to even begin to flower. This can be achieved in a few ways that we will go through below.
Firstly you can encourage rhubarb to grow an early crop by covering it with a pot or something that will fully cover the top, like a bucket. Strawberry plants can also be encouraged to grow early by moving them under cover. Feeding any cabbages you have with a nitrogen rich feed will help them to have a leafy growth.
When it comes to pruning, all plants are different and some of them won’t need pruning this month, while with others now is the best time to prune them and make them ready for the coming seasons. We recommend a high quality pruner to keep your plants in check. Starting with hellebore plants, with these you are going to want to remove any foliage with black marks on them, this helps to limit the spread of leaf spot disease. Look for plants that have shrivelling or dying flowers and deadhead them, also look for any foliage affected by downy mildew and remove it. Climbing plants such as roses, ivy, etc will need to be pruned back to their desired spaces, this should be done before any birds start nesting in them.
Next we will cover which fruit plants you should prune at this time of year. Starting with apple and pear trees, which should both be pruned to remove the sickly branches, whether dead, damaged or otherwise. Next berry type bushes such as gooseberries and redcurrants should have their sideshoots cut back to three buds from their base, to concentrate the plant's energy into growing fruits. Blackcurrant bushes will need to have around a quarter of their old stems pruned, to ensure larger berries.
There are a number of different plants, shrubs, flowers, etc that you can be planting in January. Here we will be going through all the different kinds that are ideal to plant in this month, although you can only do this if the ground has thawed and is no longer frozen. Beginning with bare-root plants like shrubs, roses, hedging and ornamental trees, these plants will thrive when planted now. Also now is the prime time to buy new flowers such as hellebores and snowdrops to plant them, make sure to pick the most beautiful blooms!
Following this there are other plants as well that just need a little bit of help to thrive in January. Many bare-root fruit bushes, canes and trees only need to be planted into some enriched topsoil to grow nicely in January. Hardy winter salad plants and Hippaestrum (Amaryllis) can also thrive when planted in a greenhouse, conservatory or sunny windowsill, with the salads being harvestable within a few weeks!
If the ground is frozen then do not fear, you can still plan for what you will grow in the springtime. Starting with your fruit and vegetables, you will need to make sure that you grow each type of crop in a different bed to where they were planted last year. This helps to ensure that your plants have all of the nutrients they need to grow healthily and if any are struggling then you can use some plant feed to give them exactly what they need.. Now is also the time to be purchasing vegetable seeds for planting in the spring, such as potatoes, onions, shallots, etc.
With that there are just a few jobs to do including repotting orchids that have outgrown their pots but only after they have flowered, into new larger pots or planters. It is also a good idea to clear out old crops, dead plants and weeds from any plots or beds you may have. Then dig into the soil, to aerate it and add compost as you go. Making it ready for future plants and crops.
In terms of propagation in January there isn’t a huge amount you should be doing but you should start with the prep work, firstly by cleaning your empty pots and seed trays to make them ideal for when you begin planting. Next you can sort through your seeds and throw out any empty, damaged or out of date packets, while noting down anything you would like to buy for the coming season.
While January isn’t ideal for propagation for a lot of plants, there’s still some cuttings and seeds that you can plant during this month. Including taking root cuttings of fleshy-rooted perennials and hardwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs. Root cuttings from perennials like anemones and phlox can be planted into high quality compost with good drainage. Mistletoe berries grafted into various different tree bark, such as apple, oak, maple, elm, pine, etc will also thrive in this month. Finally you can sow seeds from hearty plants such as cornflowers, cerinthe and ammi in separated trays for an early bloom.
Hopefully this guide has given you enough things to keep you busy this January and every January to come. We stock a number of different gardening supplies, check out our full range here!
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