Welcome to the new year, a new decade, and the start of a new gardening season. January gardening is very much dependant on the weather, but if you get a chance to brave the elements there are always jobs to do! Here are my top 10 jobs for January! 1. If you shred your Christmas tree the resulting mulch is the perfect top dressing for acid loving plants such as Rhododendron, Acer and Blueberries. 2. If you have black spot on Hellebores it's best to remove the diseased leaves. It may seem dramatic but you really can remove most of the leaves without it suffering at all. 3. If you are over wintering plants in the greenhouse Botrytis (grey mould) can be a problem. To reduce the risk increase air flow by opening all the doors and vents on mild days. In the event of signs of disease remove the plant to prevent spreading. 4. It is cold and frosty for the birds as well, so it's a good time to look after wildlife. In addition to putting out food, birdbaths can easily freeze over. 5. It's a good time to weed and continue the garden clear up ready for the spring. Many plants have died back and cutting these back makes it easier to see the perennial weeds and there is less risk of standing on other plants or new shoots. 6. In freezing conditions keep off the lawn. When frozen, the blades of grass become brittle, and do not yield to pressure. This means they will snap and break when trodden on. The lawn will not recover easily and there will be brown marks left on the grass in Spring. 7. Sow Now: Summer bedding including Begonia, Lobelia, Salvia and Pelargonium in a heated greenhouse or propagator to provide early plants. 8. Plant Now: If the ground is not frozen Soft Fruit and bareroots including hedging, roses and trees can all be planted in January. 9. Prune Now: Wisteria: cut back side shoots to 2 or 3 nice buds, creating lots of small spurs along a main stem, this will direct energy to flower production rather than vegetative growth. Deciduous hedges such as hawthorn, beech or hornbeam can be renovated in January when they are dormant and leafless. It’s also time to prune Apple and pear trees. 10. Purchase Seed potatoes as soon as they arrive in store (to get the best choice). Basic Scottish seeds are the best grade available to the home gardener as they are completely free from potato specific viruses, pests and disease. Given the varied nature of our summers, it is worth looking at the blight resistant varieties of potato. Once you’ve purchased your seed potatoes, remove them from the net/ bag immediately and place in trays (or egg boxes) eye end up for Chitting. Place the tray in frost free areas with plenty of natural light. Chitting is the term used for the process of developing shoots on the potato.
Whatever January brings I hope you get a chance to step out into the garden and enjoy the season as you tackle this month’s gardening jobs. Just think of those excess Christmas calories you’ll use up! Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk