As the great F. Scott Fitzgerald once said ‘January is the Monday of months’, and after the challenges of another COVID Christmas those words couldn’t ring more true.
Luckily, although we now have to return to the office and the hum of regular life, we can find some creative respite in our gardens which, at this time of year, are crying out for our attention.
There’s plenty to catch up on now that the initial winter months are over and the days are starting to get longer again. We’ve put together a shortlist of the gardening jobs that you should prioritise at the start of the year to set yourself up for success later on.
Protect what’s already growing
Winter isn’t over yet and since we’re now moving into some of the coldest and wettest months of the year, protection will form a large part of your garden duties.
Start by giving your trees and shrubs a shake if you’ve had any snowfall, this will prevent the added weight from bending and damaging stems and branches.
Next take a look at your ground-level plants, if you’ve had a lot of rain or sudden cold snaps it’s possible that root systems are getting damaged or put at threat of rot.
You can help to insulate them from both issues by adding an extra layer of biomass to the top of the soil, we recommend a few inches of bark or compost to help prevent oversaturation and penetration from colder weather.
Given the strong winds we’ve been having you’ll also want to check in with your tender-stemmed plants to ensure that any fleece or straw coverings you installed last year are still in place.
Finally, give your shrubs and grasses a well-need trim if they have been flattened underfoot or by extreme weather to allow them to spring back when the weather warms up.
Starting weeding now will make it easier to stay on top of and since there are very few things growing, you can work quickly and safely in the knowledge that you’re not ripping out anything that you’d want to keep.
It’s also a good time to top up your paths or rock gardens with extra stones and to perform a greenhouse check-in, making sure that plants are well insulated from the colder weather and haven’t accumulated too much moisture that could contribute to mold or frost damage.
Planting for the new year
Although the weather means that either the ground will be too hard or seeds too vulnerable to plant anything directly outdoors, January is an excellent time to start incubating certain vegetables indoors to then be planted later in the year.
Potatoes are a strong candidate since they form a staple of so many recipes and getting a head start on them now means you can have all your summer potato salads covered from home.
Start by cutting some existing potatoes in half and placing them on their ends in a couple of inches of good compost, make sure the shoots are facing upwards and leave them in a bright, cool, frost-free spot until they are ready to be planted outside in a few weeks time.
Onions also make for great January planting and your best approach here is to sow onion seeds in trays up to half an inch deep, using fine seed compost. Leave them for about two weeks or until germinated and make sure to keep their ambient temperature between 10 and 15 degrees centigrade.
In time they will begin to sprout and, once the frost has thawed, you can start thinking about moving them to a larger pot until they are ready to be rehoused outdoors.
That should be plenty to keep you busy this month alongside all the regular life admin that seems to rear its head after the Christmas lull. You can visit our website to get some additional inspiration for your own garden’s transformation later in the year.