Gardening jobs for January
January is the start of a new year and a new start for the garden. Make your New Year’s resolution to make this your best year in the garden by breaking down your gardening jobs by month.
January is a great time to take stock and plan. The garden is often at its starkest and the bare bones are completely exposed. It can be hard to imagine what it will be like in just a few months. Make the most of sunny days to make any changes you’ve been eager to make in the garden.
Gardening jobs in your veg garden
Prune grape vines
It’s a good idea to prune any grapevines while they are dormant. As soon as the warmer weather arrives, their sap will start to rise and there is a risk they will bleed badly when cut. How you prune them depends on the training system you are using, but generally they will produce fruit on the side shoots produced from last years growth; but by restricting growth and the number of shoots, you should get a better quality crop.
Protect empty beds
The heavy winter rains can easily wash nutrients out of exposed soil and cause the soil profile to slump, losing the air pockets vital for root development. It is best to give bare soil some kind of ground cover. Put down a layer of well rotted compost ready for digging in, young green manure plants, or a sheet of landscape fabric to cover the soil
Winter wash fruit trees
What is winter wash? It’s a solution of oils which can be sprayed on the tree to smother any insects hiding in the nooks and crannies, suffocating them. It’s a good idea, while the trees are no longer in leaf, to give them a spray so that they are free from any pests when they come back into growth in a couple of months.
Cover rhubarb for forcing
The best tasting rhubarb is often said to be the pale pink stems that are forced during February by excluding the light. In commercial farming they are brought in to large, dark and warm sheds to encourage them into growth. The stems become long and pale as they search for the light. At home you can do this by placing an upturned large pot filled with straw over the crown of your rhubarb. Come back in February to see if it has kick started into growth.
Gardening jobs: Ornamentals
Cut back deciduous grasses
At the end of January it is the time to cut back the deciduous grasses. Miscanthus and Calamagrostis will soon be starting to sprout again so its a good time to cut them all back. Cut them to a few inches above ground level. You can compost the tops and return them to the bed as a mulch.
Gardening jobs in the greenhouse
Clear leaves from the greenhouse gutters
January is a great time to make preparations for the year ahead, and to clean and organise everything. It is easy to overlook areas like the greenhouse, but keeping gutters clear from leaves will ensure they flow easily, and all the water can be collected and stored in a water butt, ready for the dry months of summer
It seems early, but if you have any heated areas in the greenhouse, seeds of Begonias can be started this month under cover. They will need high temperatures and high humidity so will be best in a heated propagator until they are up. Begonia seeds are so small it can be several weeks until you can tell if they have germinated at all.
Gardening jobs: Pests and diseases
Snow on branches
We don’t often get a lot of snow in the UK, but if it does snow the accumulated weight on branches can easily break them. A quick shake with a broom should remove the majority of the weight, just remember to stand back, unless you fancy a cold shower!
Gardening jobs: Pruning
Pruning wisteria is a mystery to many, and even the most experienced gardeners can have a crisis of confidence. Remember it flowers on the shorter side shoots, so the main job in winter is to remove any of the long, whippy growth that might remain from the summer’s growth. Some of these shoots may be required if you want to extend the framework, but on the whole they will just produce leaves so should be shortened to just a few buds which should encourage them to branch and form the flowering sideshoots we are after.
Coppice Hazel and Ash
You can cut Hazel and Ash to the ground every 5-6 years. This produces a ‘stool’ which throws up lots of long straight stems which are great for plant supports.
Gardening jobs: Shed
Recycle Xmas tree
If you have a shredder you can recycle your own Xmas tree. Alternatively, most councils will offer a service to either collect it, or you can drop it off at your local amenity site. The bank chips will be quite acidic, so compost them for a while.
The summer can take its toll on a mower. While the grass is growing less, it’s a chance to give it a good service. Sharpen the blade, clean out the air filter, change the oil, and check the spark plug. If you don’t feel confident doing it at home, it’ll probably be a bit quieter this time of year at your local mower repair shop. They may even offer a servicing discount during the winter months. Get them seen to now and they’ll be in top shape when you need them again next spring.