After the Christmas and New Year festivities are over it can be difficult to get motivated in January when the days are short and the wind can be biting, but it’s well worth waiting for a blue sky, wrapping up warm and pulling on a new soft pair of gardening gloves to enjoy the much needed moments of crisp brightness that the new year can bring.
In The Main Garden
One of the most satisfying jobs (and the quickest way to warm you up!) is to mulch your borders with compost or leaf mould giving your garden a ‘cared-for’ look. Avoid doing this if the ground is actually frozen as you’ll defeat the object by locking in the cold.
Tender plants and emerging bulbs will appreciate the insulation and in the longer term the mulch will cut down on the need for watering and act as a slow release fertiliser. Start as you mean to go on if you don’t compost already, build yourself a compost bin or try our composting sacks to get you started.
Whilst mulching you will no doubt find that the bulbs are stirring and you can take the opportunity to mark them to avoid them falling victim to a gardener’s boot, or protect the emerging shoots from rabbits and squirrels with a bell cloche.
If you have had forced Hyacinths or Paper Whites inside over Christmas it’s worth planting them outside - with luck they may establish and flower again in a year or two.
A pot of bulbs bought into the greenhouse or kept in a protected porch may be encouraged to flower a week or two early and enjoyed on a terrace or even an indoor windowsill.
Trim back the old leaves of Hellebore plants down to the ground to reveal the spectacular flowers and to help prevent problems with Leaf Spot.
Fruit cages should be checked for damage ahead of the new season and any holes fixed with string or new protective netting ordered so that the plants are protected from bird damage when they come into bud shortly.
Any coverings of snow should be brushed off hedges and shrubs to prevent splaying. Also snow should be removed from netting and fleece to avoid sagging and damage.
If particularly severe weather is forecast it would be sensible to protect Autumn sown Spinach, Peas and Broad Beans and more delicate shrubs with an Easy Fleece Jacket or Cloche either for the entire winter or in case of especially hard or late frosts.
Pruning at this time of year can introduce some structure back into hedges and climbing plants and is best done now before the sap begins to rise.
Climbing roses should be cut back to the main structure and any crossed or awkward stems removed. Strong stems can be tied in to the trellis or garden arch that supports the rose. Whilst the climbers are dormant it is a good time to consider adding more structures to support vigorous plants for the coming year - maybe a pergola or a gazebo could help add height to your garden.
To guarantee an abundance of flowers on your Wisteria you should now shorten sub-laterals (previously cut back in the summer) to 2-3 buds from the main framework. A dressing of Sulphate of Potash around the base in the spring will further encourage flower production.
Even in an unheated greenhouse sowing can start now - Sweet Peas like to develop deep root systems so thrive in Rapid Rootrainers and early sowing will enable you to pinch out seedlings and have really robust plants flowering strongly throughout the season.
In The Kitchen Garden
In the Kitchen Garden Autumn fruiting Raspberry canes can now be cut down to the ground and the older darker stems of Blackcurrant bushes removed to promote the growth of the lighter coloured new growth.
Rhubarb can be forced using a traditional forcer or even an upturned bucket - anything that will cut out the light to encourage the light tender stems of early rhubarb.
Potatoes can be placed in a light, frost free place to ‘chit’ to enable them to grow on well after planting out in a couple of months. If you don’t have room to grow potatoes in the garden you could have a go with a Patio Potato Planter - there’s nothing like the taste of homegrown new potatoes!
The days are getting longer and Spring is on the horizon. If the weather is too bad to get out and about January is a great time to look back on your gardening magazines and catalogues - so much to look forward to - Happy Gardening!