January is fairly quiet apart from starting to raise plants from seed and keeping your garden looking its best. Also try and take time to relax by the fire checking out the wide range of young plants, both flower and vegetable, we offer in our Main Catalogue, or our Plant Catalogue, so why not request a copy of one or even both!
Sowings can be made of antirrhinum, begonia, dianthus, geranium, gloxinia, lobelia, salpiglossis, statice, sweet pea and verbena. Some perennial plants such as anemone, auricula, 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 planted 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.
To prolong the flowering period of winter-flowering houseplants avoid droughts and any dry places such as near fires or radiators, by keeping them in good light and a cool position. To prevent disease remove dead leaves from foliage of plant. Remove any dead flowers on cyclamen and azaleas to prolong their flowering period. Daffodils and hyacinths can be force fed to build up bulbs. Prior to bulbs appearing spread mulch over the flower borders and also around shrubs.
Hippeastrum bulbs can be planted in free-draining compost and placed somewhere warm, eg shelf over a radiator, encouraging strong root development along with flowering. Do not leave them standing in water.
Bulbs, corms and tubers that are being kept in store should be checked regularly for signs of deterioration or rot. Any diseased ones should be removed immediately, sprinkling sulphur powder on the others to prevent attack by disease.
Seed potatoes should be stored in trays, in a light, cool, frost-free place to chit ready for planting in March or April. Sowings can still be made of Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia and The Sutton (under cloches) if conditions are suitable. In the greenhouse, sowings can be made of aubergine and summer maturing cauliflower.
In colder parts of the country, and for exhibition, sowings of onion should be made in the greenhouse, harden off the plants in March prior to planting outdoors in April.
Prepare a deep trench, for where runner beans are to be grown next summer, by digging out and filling with rotted compost from your compost bin, plus during winter you can carry on adding kitchen waste. Then in late spring cover with soil and sow your beans on top.
Continue to plant raspberries and other soft cane fruit, however, if soil conditions are unsuitable when you receive your plants, plant them temporarily in a spare piece of land or pot to prevent the roots drying out, until there is an improvement. Established fruit bushes and trees should be pruned.
Remove any old stems to avoid over-crowding in the middle of whitecurrants and redcurrants. Also the sideshoots should be pruned so there is just one bud.
Dormant clumps of early rhubarb should have buckets or forcing jars placed over them which will encourage stems to form giving an early harvest.
Nectarines and peaches that are being grown in pots should be moved under cover for the winter, such as in an unheated greenhouse. Keeping rain off these trees will assist in preventing the spread of peach leaf curl disease. The early flowers will also be protected from frost.
New plantings should be protected from the wind by erecting a shelter around them. Move container shrubs being over-wintered into a cold greenhouse, cold frame or even wrap the pots in bubble plastic to give protection. Fleece or netting should be used to protect vulnerable plants from severe frost. Tree ties and stakes should be checked for loosening. Use wire netting to protect outdoor seedbeds, pots and trays from damage by squirrels. Glue bands can be applied around tree trunks to control pests such as the winter moth.
All leaves that have fallen, along with the ones under bushes and hedges, should be cleared away as they give protection for snails and slugs during the winter months. Also remember that falling leaves can clog up greenhouse gutters. All the raked up leaves may be left to rot down in a leaf bin.
To let in more light, the greenhouse roof can be washed down removing dirt and grime. It is also a good idea to empty and clean water-butts. Trays and pots can be cleaned ready for use. Another idea is for tools and equipment such as lawnmowers to be cleaned and serviced.
Any areas of ground that are presently empty can be dug over forking in plenty of rotted manure or compost. Should conditions prove wet, and we have certainly had a good deal of rain lately, a polythene sheet can be used to cover the area helping to keep any further rain off, then once the soil has dried out digging can begin again.
To improve drainage and reduce waterlogging, stand planted patio pots up on feet so that they are slightly raised from direct contact with the ground. Also during very cold spells move them to a sheltered position.
Leave netting in place that was put over ponds last month so as to prevent any falling leaves from going in. Also if any filters or pumps haven’t been removed yet it may be worthwhile doing so thereby avoiding any damage from freezing water during cold winter spells.
Please remember to provide a supply of food again this month for all the birds who visit our shores from colder countries.