It’s been a cold few days here, temperatures below freezing at night and barely climbing above zero degrees in the day. Hard to believe then, that a lot is happening in the garden in January. Underground, roots are developing, gearing up for the year ahead. Above ground, if you look closely, hellebore buds are fattening up and bright, green shoots emerging from the ground.
These are two evergreen climbers in my garden, growing over an arch, leading through to the little vegetable garden. The Clematis has these sweet white flowers through winter and into spring. The red leaves belong to Trachelospermum jasminiodes, that has sweetly scented, small white clusters of flowers in summer. The glossy, green leaves often turn red in a cold winter, but will be replaced by new leaves in spring.
It’s all very hopeful.
Walking on soil is to be avoided if it’s frozen or very wet, for fear of damaging precious soil structure. But when conditions are good there are a few things to be done, and it’s so nice to be outside with a robin for company, there’s always an optimistic robin nearby.
Small weeds can be pulled out, much easier at this stage of their life. They’ve generally grown enough so you can distinguish them by their leaves, from plants you want to keep.
Have a look at Dahlias stored inside and check they’re healthy. Give them more ventilation if there are any signs of mould.
Plan what flowers and vegetables you’d like to grow this year.
This is one for when it’s wet or cold outside.
Have fun choosing, but be realistic about quantities. Start with what vegetables you like to eat and what’s grown well in the past. Annual flowers are such a good, affordable way to fill empty patches in the garden. Try one or two new things to keep life interesting.
I’ll be in my shed any day now, tidying the shelves and cleaning pots. Plenty of compost is going to be essential in a few weeks time, when I can start sowing seeds.
I’m checking where to order compost online, although garden centres are open, I’m keeping my trips outside to an absolute minimum.
I sowed Hollyhock seeds last September, some collected for me by my son Tim, and others from the Park in London (W12 postcode) near where my daughter Katie and her husband Rob live.
This is the magic of growing plants that are special, they have meaning beyond the plants themselves. I get a little leap of joy every time I go into the greenhouse and see them doing well.
Sow seeds, in deep pots or root-trainers if you have them, and keep them under cover. A light filled windowsill, green-house or cold-frame are all good places. They’ll be ready to be planted outside in March.
Vegetables in January:
Chard and Kale is still going strong in my garden. There are also salad leaves in the greenhouse, sown in early October, and grown in gutters for the first time.
I’ll sow a few more salad seeds when temperatures increase, they need warmth to germinate, maybe next month?
Garlic and Broad Beans:
There’s still time to plant both of these. Though best to wait for milder conditions if the soil is frozen or very wet.
Still time to prune gooseberry & currant bushes. Aim for an open shape to get plenty of air-flow in the centre. Cut the main branches by half, and the side shoots back so that two shoots remain.
It’s the last chance to prune vines, before the sap starts rising next month, when cuts will bleed sap.
Birds have such a hard time in January, the coldest month of the year, so food is a must. We’ve got our bird seed in squirrel proof containers.
Making food from a combination of bird seed and fat is easy. I’m sprinkling small, amounts of seed on the ground each day for ground feeding birds.
I also have a couple of big, shallow saucers of water for birds.
Enjoy your garden and take care.
all photos: Jill Anderson