January may not seem like the best time of year to be doing anything in the garden. Cold days, the possibility of ice and snow and the lack of daylight hours can make you want to stay inside all snug and warm. But once you are outside there is something a little bit special about being in a cold frozen garden with all the life peeking through underneath. To get the best from your plants, there are some jobs that need to be done at this time of year.
So, wrap up warm and head on out there with your checklist:
Combatting the Cold
Most of the time, plants are designed to cope with the cold times of the year and frost and snow are just part of the natural cycle. But if there is a longer cold period, then there are some steps you should take to help certain plants and garden features.
Plants in terracotta and china pots are popular around the garden but their roots can also be susceptible to the prolonged cold. Consider wrapping them in bubble wrap or hessian bags to help protect them and prevent them from cracking. And prop them up on a couple of bricks to improve the drainage - so they don’t get waterlogged during winter wet.
Flower Garden Jobs
If your garden is focused on flowers, then there are a few jobs to do on specific plants in January. Some plants will benefit from cutting back at this time of year because they are dormant and can then start to create new growth as the weather warms – roses are a perfect example. Other jobs include:
- Trim faded flowers from winter pansies to renew their growth
- Cut down old stems of perennial plants such as Sedum but beware of cutting off new growth
- Trim leaves from Hellebore that are dying to allow emerging flowers to show
- Prune Wisteria to summer-side shoots or to 2-3 buds
Fruit & Vegetable Garden Jobs
January is often the time when you prepare some of the plants that you want to produce crops later in the year as well as maintaining others that grow through the winter.
- Prepare potatoes for growing by standing them in an egg box or tray in a frost-free place to start sprouting
- Continue harvesting parsnips and leeks
- Cover a section of your veg plot with fleece or black plastic and put a cloche on top. This will warm the ground so you can get planting earlier in the spring
Pruning fruit trees can also be done at this time of year as, like roses, they are dormant. Leave plums, cherries and apricots until summer though as they are susceptible to silver leaf infections if cut during the winter. You can prune berry bushes such as blackcurrant and gooseberry to shape as required while raspberry canes can be planted in free-draining soil.
Other January Garden Jobs
If it does snow, try to brush it off trees and bushes to prevent the weight snapping the branches. Watch out for slimy patio patches and use a pressure washer to clean it on those bright days. If possible, try to keep everyone off the grass when there is snow on it as it can compact the ground – however if there is enough snow in your garden to create a snowman or a enjoy a family snowball fight then forget about it and have fun!