Enjoy the dry days and winter sunshine by getting out into your garden and tackling these January jobs.
GROW YOUR OWN
- Sow chilli seeds
To produce a good crop chillies, you need as long a growing season as possible, combine that with the fact chillies tend to be slow germinators and January becomes the perfect time to get sowing.
Sow them sparingly in a seed tray and provide them with a little warmth, a windowsill above a radiator will do perfectly. Transfer them into small pots as soon as they have a few leaves. Continue to pot them into bigger pots as they grow.
- Prune apple trees
Apple trees are dormant in winter and so it’s the perfect time to tidy them up. Focus first on removing all dead, diseased and damaged wood (the 3 D’s), then remove all branches that are crossing and rubbing against each other and finally aim to create space between branches improving air flow that helps prevent disease and let’s in light to help fruit ripen.
Make sure you use clean tools and clean between trees to prevent infection.
- Chit first early potatoes
First early potatoes are planted between mid-March and mid-April, buy them now and pop them in egg boxes, keep them somewhere light, cool and frost free. Over the a few weeks they will begin to sprout giving them a head start when you plant them up.
- Create a micro green allotment on your windowsill
Micro- greens are plants you harvest when they are only a few cm’s tall. They have an intense flavour that adds punch and freshness to soups and salads. We love them as you can use up all your old seeds rather than throwing them away. Try peas, beans, coriander, basil, lettuce, kale, chard, celery, beetroot, turnip, the options are endless. All you need are a few seed trays and bit of compost.
- Tidy up your shed
If you are anything like us, then by January you’re terrified to open your shed for fear of that last stack of plant pots you crammed in before Christmas toppling out on you.
January is the perfect time to clear it out, give it a sweep, recycle anything you no longer need and get yourself organised for a productive year.
- Wash plants pots and seed trays
Pests and diseases can overwinter in old compost and plant debris attached to your plant pots and seed trays. Grab a dish brush and a bucket of hot soapy water and give them a scrub ahead of the seed sowing season.
- Clean plant labels
Rather than throw away your used plastic plant labels give them a soak and a scrub to remove old writing. Going forward write in pencil so you can rub and reuse and instead of buying plastic labels try wooden cloths pegs.
- Prepare plant supports
Take some time to check your plant supports removing all the bits of plant and soil ensuring they are disease and pest free and ready to use when you need them.
- Sharpen garden tools
Ensure you’re ready to tackle any job by giving your tools a clean and a sharpen. Well maintained tools save you money, prevent the spread of disease and improve your productivity.
Winter/ spring mulching protects soil from intense rain, insulates plants roots, suppresses weed growth and adds goodness to encourage and aid growth.
Mulch with homemade garden compost, compost, soil improver, leaf mould, bark chippings, used compost from pots and containers.
Apply a 5cm deep layer around shrubs, trees and perennials. Avoid piling the mulch against the stems of trees and shrubs as this can encourage rot and damage.
- Plant trees and shrubs
Winter is a great time to plant trees and shrubs as they have plenty of time to settle in before the challenges of summer heat and drought affect them. Avoid planting when the ground is waterlogged or frozen. Check out our GUIDE TO PLANTING TREES.
- Remove dead leaves from ponds
Fish out dead leaves and plant material from your pond to prevent it decaying in the water and encouraging algae. Leave the material next to your pond for a few days before adding to your compost heap to ensure any wildlife has a chance to head back to the safety of the water.
- Deadhead winter bedding
Keep your winter bedding looking good by removing any damaged, dead or disfigured flowers. By removing the flowers, you will encourage the plant to produce a fresh new flush.
- Check your summer bulbs
If you stored your summer bulbs for the winter give them a check and remove any mould or rot ensuring they are in good condition when you come to plant then up in Spring.
- Feed the birds
Nothing is more magical then watching birds feed in the winter garden. At a time of the year when food is scarce it’s essential we all do our bit to help our feathered friends. Don’t forget to make sure they have access to fresh water as well.
Why not join the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch between 27th and 29th January?