You’re in luck if you’re hoping that the answer to ‘what to do in the garden in January’ is ‘not very much’, but there are a few crucial things to do before it all kicks off and everything starts growing like mad in a few weeks time.
Photos of gardens always help to inspire me at this time of year when it’s hard to remember what summer looked like.
January is usually one of the coldest months, and although it’s been very wet so far, that could change at anytime. Check that fleece and covers are still all in place, and haven’t worked their way loose, or cover things now if you haven’t got round to it yet. The more tender plants need protection from cold winds as much as chilly air.
I’ve been opening up my cold-frame on the warmer days to let the moisture out and reduce the liklihood of fungal diseases appearing on plants.
A damp atmosphere where plants are packed in close together makes the ideal place for mould to grow. Opening up the greenhouse too, ideally a couple of hours in the middle of the day works best, just leave a smaller gap open if you’re out all day.
It’s best not walk over bare soil when it’s very wet [that’s most of my back garden at the moment], it compresses and squeezes all the air out, when what we’re after for plants is soil with a nice, friable structure and plenty of air pockets in it.
Prepare for the growing season by spreading a thick layer of mulch over the soil when it’s not frozen or water-logged. It’s the best thing to do for healthy soil, which really is the back-bone of any garden. Plants grow stronger and healthier than in poor soil, which is especially important if you grow organically or want to avoid using chemicals as much as possible.
Lastly, put out food and water for birds, they need extra help at this time of year when the ground may be frozen and most of their natural food in the garden has all gone. One of the reasons I encourgae birds into the garden or allotment, is that they are great little allies, looking out for and eating up pests in the spring and summer just when we need all the help we can.
Enjoy looking through the seed catalogues this month too, planning and dreaming is an essential part of gardening.
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson