FOR THE YEAR AHEAD
It may be cold outside but there is plenty of gardening you can do with your feet up inside at this time of year
Now is the best time to see the overall structure and shape of your garden which means you can assess what you already have and plan on how to improve it.
You don’t have to spend a fortune and your garden can be any size whether in the country or in a town. Have a good look through the seed catalogues for summer flowers you can grow from scratch and flick through gardening books and manuals for ideas and easy to implement garden tips.
If you’re thinking of growing your own fruit and veg then it’s a great time to plant seeds indoors for some early crops such as lettuces, summer brassicas such as cabbages and cauliflowers, spinach and salad onions. A job for January is to get seed beds ready and now is also the time to prune currant and gooseberry bushes.
A simple garden solution for January is to bring colour to container evergreens. It’s a good idea to invest in a basic collection of container evergreens – box, conifer, holly and bay – that you can customise through the seasons by adding bedding plants around the base of each bush. You can create a mix of containers that look great grouped together or scattered through the garden with a variety of colourful plants decorating them such as white cyclamen for winter, lavender blue pansies in spring and white and pink daisies in summer.
Another plant great for instant winter-spring colour and perfect for containers, window boxes and borders is the primula. The majority bloom in the spring, but they have been known to flower through mild winter. There is a wide range of colours available from bright yellow to pastel reds and blues and they can grow in most soil types and be planted in sun and semi shade.
They can be used very effectively in bedding schemes with tulips and other winter-spring bedding plants or planted alone in blocks of colour. When planting primula in containers, use multi-purpose compost and ensure that they never dry out – and remember to dead head the plants regularly as this will encourage a longer flowering period.
January garden checklist:
• Clean and oil garden tools
• Scrub pots so they are disease free and don’t infect new plants
• Sharpen secateurs
• Take the lawnmower in to be serviced
• If it snows, shake it off evergreens, hedges and conifers to stop the weight causing any damage
• Treat timber fences, archways and sheds with wood preservative
• Bring mature shrubs to life by pruning older branches as close to the stem as possible
• Keep container plants protected from frost and check to see if they need watering
• Remember to put out food and water for birds