Cold January days are the perfect opportunity for planning your garden for the following year. The snowdrops are beginning to emerge from the ground. Scented shrubs are beginning to flourish and Hellebores begin to show their faces in the shadiest patches of the garden. For me, January is a time to dream about the gardening season ahead and get my hands dirty too! January Gardening!
Continue to clear away any decaying perennials from your borders to deter slugs and snails and allow spring bulbs to grow fully. Empty compost heaps that are ready to use as mulch and spread it on the garden. This will enrich your soil and provide you with healthy plants later in the year.
Garden birds are active throughout the winter months. Ensure that bird tables and feeders are kept clean and topped up with food regularly.
Planting Garlic And Preparing Groundwork
You can still plant garlic in January. Choose varieties that are bred for the UK climate, such as ‘Chesnok Wight’ and ‘Solent Wight’. First, you need to prepare the ground a little. I tend to avoid the garden when it’s cold, because I get tired and breathless, so choose a warmish day.
Then, if you can, plant the garlic in raised beds or large pots. Preparing the bed is easy enough, simply take a hoe and chop away at the soil until it looks like crumbly cake mix.
The weather may be deterring you from venturing outside to prune your garden, but don’t worry, you can hold off for a week or two but winter pruning needs to be done before the first signs of spring. January is a great month to prune most deciduous trees and shrubs. Fruit trees can be pruned at this time but be careful not to prune spring flowering plants. Know your soil! Find out what plants will flourish best in your soil by testing the ph levels and finding out what type of soil you have in your garden.
Have you ever wondered why your plants aren’t flourishing as well as you hoped? Testing your soil is the most accurate way to find out how to improve your soil type and in turn your plants! It’s time to sharpen and clean the blades on secateurs and knives to ensure that they’re ready for action next spring. Keep up with fixing odd things around the garden and give your sheds and greenhouses a clear out of all dead or dying plants and generally clear that clutter. Remember, tidying removes hiding places for slugs and snails reducing their numbers next summer.
Sowings can be made of antirrhinum, begonia, geranium, gloxinia, lobelia, sweet pea and verbena. Some perennial plants such as anemone, auricular, aquilegia, hollyhock and kniphofia can also be sown at this time. Sweet peas that have been raised from autumn sowings can be encouraged to form sideshoots by pinching out the seedling tips. Cut down flowering perennials to ground level. Any newly panted perennials or winter bedding that have been lifted by frost should be firmed back in.
When leaf shoots begin to show on crocuses, remove the pots from the beds where they had been placed, clean the pots of any old compost and place them in a cold greenhouse for the flowers to develop. Bare-rooted roses can continue to be planted. To avoid disease refrain from planting new roses where old ones have been removed from. However, the exception to this is if the soil has been replaced and conditioned.
Sowing Early Seeds
It is possible to start some early sowings in January. Tempting though this is you there can be problems. Early in the year the young plants cannot go outside, potentially for several months which means space is needed to grow the seedlings under glass to protect them. Everything which you sow now/or buy from the garden centre as a plug plant, will have to be grown under glass until frost is over. If space is short it’s best to wait until later in the year.
It is also still cold and to germinate seeds need warmth, such as a heated propagator and then transfer under glass. Once established the seedlings should be OK in the greenhouse, unless it is very cold, when cover with a fleece.
Other Jobs About The Garden
Brush heavy snow of off hedges and conifers to prevent the branches from snapping out under its weight. Shred your Christmas tree and add it to compost bins. Alternatively the stripped down branches make great pea sticks. Hang fat balls and keep bird feeders topped up to attract birds, who will in turn eat pests in your garden. Get rid of slimy patches on the patio, and paving by scrubbing with a broom or blasting with a pressure washer. Wash empty pots by scrubbing them with hot water and a mild detergent. Rinse them well afterwards.
Consider purchasing water butts now ready for the summer. Rainwater is particularly useful for watering acid-loving, ericaceous plants (tap water is often slightly alkaline). Continue planting trees and shrubs while they are still dormant. If all you can see from your windows are unattractive sheds, composting areas and bins this winter, think about using evergreen climbing plants like Clematis ‘Winter Beauty’ or Clematis armandii as a screen, or just to add winter interest.