January is a time for planning and preparation in our gardens and there are plenty of tasks which can be done to get ready for the spring. Gardens and allotments will offer numerous activities for people looking for things to do and these activities will help boost your mood and physical wellbeing. Now is the time to begin chitting potatoes, and to sow seeds, particularly tender crops that need a longer season, such as tomatoes, chillies and peppers.

Grow Your Own:

*Tender vegetables can be started from seed in a heated greenhouse.

*Peach and Nectarines can be protected from excess winter wet with polythene sheeting – this will help prevent Peach Leaf Curl

*Fruit trees and soft fruit can still be planted if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged.

*Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and Leeks can be harvested

*Root vegetables such as Parsnips, Swede, Celeriac and Turnip can be harvested if this has not been done already. Parsnips improve in flavour if frosted but other root vegetables may need a little protection if the weather turns cold – straw will do a good job.

HOUSEPLANTS:

*Forced bulbs that have been in the house for Christmas display and have finished can be moved out to the greenhouse or a sheltered spot outside – don’t forget to check for watering.

*Don’t leave houseplants on windowsills behind curtains on cold nights especially if you don’t have double glazing, as temperatures can drop suddenly.

* Light levels are low at this time of year and houseplants need as much of this as they can get. Do not overwater – keep the pots just moist.

GREENHOUSE:

*Ventilate the greenhouse a little on sunny days as the temperature can suddenly rise.

*Make sure that temperatures in the greenhouse are kept above freezing especially during the night to protect overwintering Fuchsias and Pelargoniums etc. from damage.

WILDLIFE:

*Hang up bird feeders, if you haven’t done already – look out for cat and squirrel resistant designs.

*Bird baths can be a vital source of water during the winter months – make sure they are clean and topped up.

*Start thinking about where you could locate a nest box as the birds start scouting out suitable sites during this month.

WATER GARDEN:

*Regularly shake off leaves from nets covering ponds.

*Place a football or something similar in the pond (if you don’t have a pond heater) to help prevent freezing.

*Remove pumps and filters from water features, if you haven’t done so already, clean and store them for the spring.

LAWNS:

*Repair lawn edges to sharpen up the appearance of the garden and save work later on.

FLOWER GARDEN:

*Remove old leaves from Helleborus niger and orientalis types, taking them out at soil level, to show off the flowers and remove the possibility of leaf spot diseases spreading to the flowers and new leaves.

*If we have any warm days, bulbs may be fooled into extra growth which may then get frosted by subsequent cold weather, if the growth seems excessive cover with extra compost to protect the soft shoots.

TREES, SHRUBS AND HEDGES:

*Roses can be planted now if the ground is not too wet or frozen – avoid areas where roses have grown before as they can suffer from replant diseases. Our new stock of roses will be in this month.

*Protect newly planted trees and shrubs from cold winds and frost if possible and check that the wind has not loosened the roots – re-firm if necessary.

*Tender plants can be protected with thick dry mulches, fleeces or straw and may still need this if the weather remains below freezing. Don’t leave protection on for any longer than is necessary or the plant will go soft and suffer in the following season.

GENERAL:

*Now is a good time to sharpen, clean and oil tools ready for the new season and check whether any of them need replacing.

*Time to plan any changes in the garden or any new varieties you might like to try.

*It is a good time to sit down and plan this season’s seed sowing – once the growing season has started, time is in short supply.