In The Garden
We know it’s tempting to stay indoors after indulging in all those festive goodies but weed growth at this time of year is non-existent, so just a few hours outside will bring everything up to scratch and ensure everything remains looking good for weeks. A bit of fresh air and exercise also gives us the much needed ‘feel good factor’ that we crave after all the dark and cosy nights in over Christmas.
If time is limited in the garden this month, here are our top five tips:
1) If you want to move plants in your garden it’s best to do it now when they’re still dormant. If you’re looking for any new additions for your garden this year now is also a great time to plant them.
2) Prune deciduous trees and shrubs if the weather permits. You can pick up secateurs and other handy tools online or in-store.
3) Plant new roses, home-grown at Coolings.
4) Purchase your seed potatoes in late January ready for chitting in a light, frost free shed or garage.
5) After heavy rain, spike your lawn with a garden fork to aid drainage.
If you have a little more time to spare…
Beds and Borders
If you purchased a pot grown Christmas tree in December, with the aim of growing it on, for best chance of success be sure to transplant it into the garden as soon as possible after the festivities. Water regularly until established.
Cut off old leaves of Hellebores which produce flowers from ground level (such as Helleborus niger), as this will expose the flowers and remove foliage diseases such as Hellebore leaf spot.
If you are planning on moving any plants in your garden it’s best to do it now when they’re still dormant (provided the ground is not frozen or waterlogged), before they put on lots of spring growth. If you haven’t got time to plant trees and shrubs properly yet, or if the weather is bad, unpack new shrubs and dig a trench in a spare part of the garden. Lay the plants in the trench and cover the roots with soil until you have time to do the job properly. Old carpet
or underlay can be cut and laid around the base of young trees and shrubs to control weeds and reduce moisture loss.
On frost free days take the opportunity to prune deciduous trees and shrubs to create the desired shape and framework for the coming seasons.
If we do have any heavy snowfall in the next couple of months, use a broom to gently brush snow off prized conifers, topiary and evergreen shrubs, which can snap and break under its weight.
If weather allows, now is great time to plant new roses.
Sowing, Planting and Harvesting
Sow broad beans, hardy peas and summer radishes in a sheltered spot in well-drained soil, or start the seeds off indoors for planting out in March. Make small, successive sowings to ensure a plentiful crop throughout the growing season.
Seed potatoes are set to arrive in store this month – Chit early potatoes in a light, frost free shed or garage.
Harvest brussels sprouts, red and green cabbages, kale, chicory, leeks, forced rhubarb, chard, spinach and soft herbs such as parsley and chervil.
Sow sweet peas (if not done at the end of last year) buy your dahlia, gladiolus and other summer-flowering bulbs and corms when we get them in stock at the end of January (these will need to be planted out after the last frosts).
Other produce in season this month: pears, walnuts, long-storing apples, beetroot, carrots, turnips, parsnips, swede, duck, rabbit and maincrop potatoes.
Other Jobs to Consider
Dig over vacant veggie plots and leave rough for the frost to break down. Tidy up the greenhouse, getting rid of any broken pots, old compost or debris that could hide unwanted visitors.
Keep bird tables and nut feeders full and ensure a regular supply of clean water. Birds require suet based high-energy foods during the cold weather to maintain their fat reserves in order to survive. Stock up on Peckish bird food in our Early Bird Sale, the birds will love you for it! Ponds may become ice-bound but don’t be overzealous – smashing the ice to allow the fish to breathe may send shock waves that kill them. Instead, pour on hot water, or stand a hot saucepan on the ice until it melts a porthole air gap. Fish survive the chilly periods by staying at the bottom of the pond – don’t even think of feeding them just now as their metabolisms have slowed and you’ll be doing them no favours.
Mole activity often increases in January and February as the moles begin to mate and nest. Remove the largest hills from your lawn and re-firm the area before reseeding in the spring. It’s a good time to recut the lawn edges. They tend to lose their definition over time as the grass spreads beyond its confines and the weeds take over. Also, have the mower serviced in good time for the grass-cutting season and check out other garden tools and equipment for damage, rust and loose bolts. If after heavy rain, water sits in puddles on the lawn, spike with a garden fork to aid drainage.
In the Greenhouse
If you have plants in the greenhouse, make sure your heaters are working and that the insulation is good. In snowy weather, clear the greenhouse roof after a weighty snowfall. If your green house is still empty and the weather is mild, this is a good time to give it (and all your pots and trays) a good scrub. Throw open the door and set to work. Remove moss from between panes of glass and clean the panes both inside and out. Also make any repairs and replace that cracked glass that let in rain all last season!
Pot up Amaryllis bulbs received as Christmas gifts. Bring into active growth with regular watering ready to put on a fabulous display of flower in Winter.