“Plant carrots in January and you’ll never have to eat carrots.” ~ Gardening Saying
Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2020 delivers perfect gardening weather making our gardens the most colourful and productive ever! And if it doesn’t, well that’s all part of the challenge.
This month, many gardens will be inaccessible due to mud, frost or snow and huge motivation will be needed to make even the keenest gardener venture out. However, the days are getting longer and in just a few weeks the garden will be opening its arms to you again. In the meantime, prepare for the year ahead by getting the lawnmower serviced, the secateurs sharpened, and the pots and seed trays all washed and neatly stacked.
Have you made any gardening related resolutions? Perhaps to plant more perennials and reduce the number of annuals? Or to save money and grow more plants from seed? Or maybe just to spend a minimum of 30 minutes doing something in the garden each day? Certainly if, like many of us, you made a resolution to lose some weight and get fitter then working out in the garden will help!
PS Best wait until February before sowing those carrots! 😊
Our top ten recommended tasks this month include:
- Check tree and shrub stakes to make sure that any ties are secure but not causing damage by rubbing. New trees can be planted, just keep them well watered.
- January can be the coldest of months so keep some fleece handy to protect plants that are simply too big to move under cover.
- Check any stored dahlia and begonia tubers. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut away any signs of rot. If the tubers look shrivelled, plunge them into a bucket of tepid water overnight, then dry thoroughly.
- Firm in any plants that have been lifted by frost.
- Houseplants will want to be kept cool and free from drafts. Water sparingly.
- Citrus plants will appreciate a winter feed and an occasional drink.
- Early in the month, sow onion seed in an indoor propagator for planting out in April.
- Pot on autumn-sown sweet peas and place on a sunny windowsill. If you didn’t start any then no problem! Sweet peas seeds can be sown early this month.
- On rare sunny days, open cold frames and greenhouse windows. This will help to keep the plants tough enough to handle those very cold days still to come. Just remember to close them again before dark!
- Some seeds such as chilli and aubergine are slow growers, so order them this month for an early start. Aubergine F1 Pinstripe is dwarf and so ideal for a patio pot, producing delicious and attractive purple/cream striped fruits.
Committed to the Future
Climate change is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Awareness is rising across the globe and momentum is building. Here at Suttons we are committed to conducting our business in an ethical, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.
Below are some of the steps we are taking to reduce our impact on the environment:
- Suttons homegrown plants are 100% peat-free.
- To reduce plastic, we’ve moved to “naked” or paper wraps on our catalogue mailings and use compostable plant-based polymer “pillows” as parcel fillers to ensure safe transit of products through the post.
- Where possible we’ve moved to FSC accredited paper suppliers.
- We’ve introduced “partial returns” to our retail seed partners saving the unnecessary destruction of over 1 million seed packets per year.
- In autumn 2017 Suttons stopped all use of neonicotinoid pesticides in our Torquay nursery.
- To reduce transport emissions, we now grow over 1 million plants in our Torquay nursery,
- We have invested in converting all our office lighting to LED panels with solar panels on our warehouse roof. This has enabled us to become net contributors of electricity.
- We are applying for sustainability accreditation.
- We recycle where possible and have even introduced a worm farm to break down our office kitchen waste. Turning it into great soil-enriching material.
- We are introducing a carbon offset programme.
We know we’re not perfect, but we’ve taken big steps and now we’ve started, we won’t be turning back.
“Hi, I’m Christine Loader, Horticultural and Technical Advisor here at Suttons. I have been an avid gardener all my life and have a passion for growing Fruit and Vegetables. When I am not in my greenhouse I can usually be found on my allotment. Gardening has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I look forward to sharing my expertise with you in our newsletter. This month we’re looking at sowing and growing chilli peppers.”
I love hot chillies and as they take a long time to grow and ripen, the seed is best sown from late January onwards. Chilli seed will germinate if provided with a constantly warm soil temperature between 20-35°C with 30°C being the ideal temperature. To achieve these temperatures, a thermostatically heated propagator is ideal otherwise wait until late spring when the greenhouse heats up to a high temperature and put the seed inside a propagator, this usually works quite well too.
Sow the seed into moist seed compost at a depth of no more than 2-5 mm and keep the compost moist by placing a glass or plastic sheet over the seed tray. The first seedlings will appear around 7-14 days, but some seed can be a little stubborn or if temperatures are on the low side, take 1-2 months to germinate.
Provide seedlings with good light conditions so they don’t grow leggy and weak. Once they have their first true leaves they can be pricked out and planted into individual pots using quality compost that is free draining. Seedlings have delicate roots that can rot easily if kept too wet and too cold. Growing on temperatures for the seedlings need to be at least 18-20°C. Placing the pots on a heat mat gently warms the soil and aids good root development. As plants outgrow their pots plant them up into slightly larger pots and, ultimately, grow them in 7.5-10-litre pots. Start feeding with a high potash fertiliser weekly once the first flowers appear for a bumper crop.
Plant Catalogue 2020
Judging by the number of people who have been asking “when will it be ready?” we believe you’ll be pleased to hear that the Suttons Garden Catalogue 2020 is now available.
An essential tool in planning your garden for spring and summer, the catalogue boasts 104 pages of flower and vegetable plants, summer bulbs, equipment and so much more. Reliable favourite varieties rub shoulders with exciting new finds, of which here’s just a taste:
Potato Red Emmalie – an early maincrop this disease-resistant spud is red not only on the outside but on the inside too! Anyone for red mashed potato?
Deutzia Raspberry Sundae – clusters of scented pink and white flowers smother this compact plant from mid-spring right through to mid-summer.
Begonia Funky – a hanging basket begonia producing masses of double flowers in a choice of 2 colours.
Agapanthus Ever White – compact, disease-resistant with pure white, long-lasting flowers.
Chilli Hot Fajita – small enough for a patio pot and hot, but not too hot.
Squash Mashed Potatoes – a winter squash that when cooked resembles mashed potatoes, but with just a quarter of the carbs!
Tree Spinach – easy to grow and a colourful alternative to spinach.
Tomato Shimmer – red, gold and green striped fruits will add sweet-tasting colour and interest to salads.
Nectarine Madame Blanchette – delicious sweet juicy fruits of rose-red with white flesh.
Blackberry Asterina – huge shiny berries growing on thornless plants.
Order a print copy of the catalogue or view the online version here.
To Chit or not to Chit? That is the Question
When it comes to first and second earlies then the answer is to chit as this will result in an earlier, bigger crop.
Seed potatoes have a blunt end, called the rose end, with eyes (buds) from which the chits (sprouts) will form. Place the potatoes singly in clean seed trays or, better still, in old egg boxes, with the rose end pointing up. Then leave them in a light, cool but frost-free place and wait for the sprouts to appear. If they are kept too warm or not in enough light, the potatoes will produce long white shoots which are no good. Ideally, the shoots should be about 2.5cm long, knobbly and green.
When planting time arrives do take care not to accidentally knock off those chits. It’s easily done!
Christmas Tree Compost
Each year in the UK we buy about 8 million Christmas trees and come January many of us are wondering what to do with them. The beauty of potted trees with roots is that they can just go back outside for another year with baubles being replaced by bird feeders. But what about those without roots that are now looking slightly jaded and threadbare? Many local councils offer a communal collection but there is no reason not to compost the tree yourself, providing you have a garden shredder. Just cut off the branches and shred them individually.
Offer of the Month
Mystery Houseplant Offer! Just £10 each
Once you’ve taken down the Christmas tree and decorations, your living room can look a little bare in January. Fill that space with a mystery indoor plant from our existing range (worth up to £27.99) for just £10! Note: image for illustrative purposes only.
Great value, great looking and great for health and wellbeing. Treat yourself or a great gift – buy your mystery houseplant here.