Although we cannot harvest many vegetables throughout the month of January we can still grow! January's cold and dark days can sometimes disconnect us from nature. Our gardens (much like us) are requiring time to rest, re-nourish, and reset.
In January, we see an end to the darkest days of winter and welcome in the growing light that helps keep our hearts warm and full. Our agricultural roots remind us that even the earth must rest in winter and that a new year offers us a chance for introspection, connection, and renewal.
While technically gardening can be accomplished alone, the holistic value of a community of gardens and gardeners is so vast that it must be measured over generations. Take time to tend to those connections made throughout this last growing season and make plans to grow your garden network in 2021.
In the flower garden:
- Lift and store dahlia tubers once their leaves are blackened by frost.
- Move containers of shrubs or bedding planters to a sheltered spots; clustering them together them together helps protect the root systems from suffering frost damage.
- Take hardwood cuttings from suitable trees and shrubs.
In the vegetable garden:
- Order your asparagus crowns now for planting in spring.
- Dig over empty borders and pile manure on top - let the worms and frosts break up the clods of soil.
- Dig a trench for next year’s beans, fill it with compostable kitchen waste (not cooked food) and re-cover with soil. This will rot down and dramatically improve the growing conditions.
- Keep fleece to hand to protect hardy salad crops such as Lettuce 'Winter Gem', winter land cress, purslane, and corn salad on cold nights.
In the fruit garden:
- Protect wall trained peaches and nectarines from wet winter weather which spreads the peach leaf curl fungus. Construct a screen of clear polythene over the plant, but not touching it.
- Apply glue bands or grease bands to the trunks of fruit trees to prevent wingless female winter moths climbing the trunks and laying their eggs in the branches.
- Protect the tips of fig tree branches. They will carry the fruits for next year and are susceptible to frost. Cover with fleece or straw.
In the greenhouse:
- Brush heavy snow off the tops of greenhouses and cold frames to prevent the glass getting damaged.
- Water plants sparingly to maintain as dry an atmosphere as possible.
- Protect your poinsettias from cold draughts and allow them to dry out slightly between waterings to make them last for the whole Christmas period and well into January.
- Keep an eye out for aphids overwintering on your plants, remove them by hand or use a pesticide.
Other jobs in the garden:
- Check tree ties and stakes to ensure that trees are still secure following strong autumn winds. Tighten or loosen ties as necessary.
- Hang fat balls and keep bird feeders topped up to attract birds, who will in turn eat pests in your garden.
- Cover compost bins with a piece of old carpet or some plastic sheeting to prevent the compost becoming too cold and wet to rot down.
- Make a pile of old logs in an undisturbed corner of the garden to provide shelter for toads and other wildlife.