Although January is still a wintry month, there’s still lots you can get up to in the garden. From pruning to planting, there’s no shortage of work regardless of the cold weather!
With spring approaching, you may be conscious of how to get your garden ready in time. We’ve compiled this handy list of gardening jobs to do throughout January to prepare your garden for spring.
Now is the perfect time to throw away damaged and rotted plants to make way for new ones come spring. This can also be helpful as it will allow you to think ahead and decide what you need to order before spring begins, such as new plants or shrubs.
Move Your Strawberry Plants
January is the best time to move your strawberry plants indoors or in a greenhouse as it promotes early fruiting. You may have already moved your potted plants into your greenhouse before winter began, but if not then around now is the best time to get them under shelter.
Bird Box Maintenance
January is a great time to survey your bird boxes and make sure they’re not wobbly or need maintenance before the nesting season begins. If you don’t have any bird boxes around the garden and you’d like to add one before spring, find a nice sheltered spot in a tree or bush.
More Jobs for the January Garden:
Remove any weeds from your beds and borders, especially before planting new plants.
Throw away damaged pots and buy new ones before the season starts.
Top up bird baths regularly and defrost frozen water with warm water in the mornings or throughout the day.
Inspect plants for rot and throw away any if necessary.
Prune your pear and apple trees to remove dead or damaged branches before spring.
If you held off planting in May, now is the ideal time to clear these plants out of your greenhouse and get your summer bedding and hanging baskets finished. There is minimal chance of frost even this far north so line your baskets, prepare the soil and use some organic compost to fertilize the soil. Ensure you water regularly particularly if the weather is warm and dry.
Hot weather protection
Hot and dry weather can be just as dangerous as the harsh conditions of winter for your plants. Recent dry spells mean watering is more important than ever. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Regular watering of pots and baskets is essential to maximise your garden show this summer. You should also remember to keep your greenhouses cool and prevent scorch with shading and ventilation.
Prepare to tie up tall border perennials with support. Tall varieties such as Hollyhocks, Delphiniums and Lupins will need a little help and stakes can help prevent wind damage. You might also like to cut back early-flowering perennials such as Papavers as this will provide fresh foliage and possibly even a second flowering.
Protect fruit trees
Protect the newly developing fruit on your fruit trees from birds. This can be tricky as netting suggested last month for soft fruit, is not a viable option. We recommend using some of those unwanted DVDs or CDs in newspaper supplements by hanging these from your trees on string. The changing reflections of light created in a little breeze should keep birds away.
Keep everything tidy
The warm weather and increased sunshine means that weeds are popping up everywhere and can be an eyesore in your garden. Keep an eye on these particularly during dry spells and it will make your garden look much neater. You should also now be cutting the lawn weekly, pruning many spring flowering shrubs and trimming hedges into shape. For bulbs, allow foliage to die down naturally before cutting back to ground level. Keep any waste for your compost bin!
If you’ve been lucky enough to get some relaxation time in the garden, you may have had furniature such as lounger out on your lawn. Be aware that this could damage grass and cause patches of yellow damaged lawn. This is easily prevented simply by moving your lawn furniture regularly. Keep up trimming your lawn regularly, including the edges, and apply fertiliser for a healthy looking growth.
It’s inevitable that each New Year we will constantly read and see ways in which we must improve our lifestyle and become healthier all around. In gardening terms this often means going “organic” and what can be more organic than growing your own fruit and vegetables. There are of course many wonderful choices of fruit and vegetables to get you started, and personal choice should always be the best reasoning for choice. Reading through the usual Sunday papers in early January got me thinking about my own personal favourites, and right up there on top of my list has to be the Blueberry, or Vaccinium to give them their proper name.Great tasting fruit to give you a health kick
The deliciously sweet tasting fruit grown from the Blueberry bush is the most appealing part of this summer fruit. The lovely small, round and colourful fruit appears in abundance throughout the summer, into autumn, providing months and months of enjoyment. Almost all Blueberry shrubs are self-fertile, but to enhance production and yield then why not try growing with partners/pairs. By planting with multiple varieties and various harvesting dates, this allows you to extend the season and allow for more wonderful fruit. Once established and properly cared for they will fruit easily year on year. By growing fruit yourself you can allow them to fully ripen on the vine prior to harvesting for a sweeter taste, a luxury that many large scale growers cannot achieve due to economic restrictions.
We have all come to refer to the Blueberry has one of the most healthy fruits around and it’s easy to see why. Recent research have helped shine light on the high levels of antioxidants, minerals and vitamin C present within Blueberries and often sees this labelled as a modern day ‘Super Food’. By growing your own fruit you control the level of pesticides used within your product, a major concern for many when buying mass produced products.
How to grow your own Blueberries
Blueberries are versatile enough to accommodate growing in the ground or in containers spread out around the patio. Planting in acidic soil is vital to the success of Blueberries, with a PH level of four/five. Make sure the soil is well aerated and rich in humus. If planting in containers then make sure they are large enough to allow the roots to fully spread, and add a handful of crocs or pebbles to the bottom of the container.
Looking after Blueberries is relatively easy and suitable for all skill levels. Make sure the soil is kept moist throughout, but never allowed to become waterlogged. Many organic gardeners choice to use recycled or rain water instead of tap water, to save the environment and in fact this should help keep PH level of the soil a little more balanced. We suggest applying a liquid feed once a month to help encourage larger and more successful fruit.
Top Varieties to Try
1. Blueberry Top Hat – The versatile and compact Blueberry Top Hat produces white flowers during spring which develop slowly into fruits come summer before its foliage finally turns reddish-green as autumn approaches. One of our best-selling varieties, the Top Hat Blueberry plant will thrive in a patio container, and grows to a mature height of just 50cm tall making it the perfect choice where space in minimal.
2. Blueberry Pink Lemonade –Blush white flowers are followed by flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. Although self-fertile, you can plant in pairs to achieve a greater crop. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamental shrub with all year round interest. Height 1.5m.
3. Blueberry Spartan (Early season Flowering) –Blueberry Spartan is a popular early fruiting variety, reaching heights of 1m. The fruit is high in Vitamin C and can be eaten fresh of the tree or for culinary purposes such as creating a pie or tart. Pot grown plants supplied.
4. Blueberry Dixi (Late season flowering) –The versatile and compact Blueberry Late Season Fruiting Dixi shrub, also known as the ‘vaccinium corymbosum’, is an intensely flavoured variety, producing fruit in August and September as well as fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators.
5. Blueberry Giant Patriot – The largest and juiciest of all blueberry shrubs, Patriot fruits July/August. Blueberry Giant Patriot produces some of the largest and most flavoursome fruits of all blueberry varieties. This impressive specimen produces fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators. Grows to a mature height of one metre, supplied as a 9cm potted plant.
Mid-to-late May is the best time to plant out summer bedding plants. Prepare the soil and use some organic compost to fertilize the soil ready for the new bedding. You do need to keep an eye on the long term weather forecast when doing this, as a late strong frost can put pay to your hard work. You can keep plants in the greenhouse until the weather improves and move them out towards the end of the month. Just make sure they’re well watered and the greenhouse is well aired, vented and shaded during the day so that these plants don’t over heat in warm weather. The same rules apply for hanging baskets. You can plant these from April onwards, but until the last sign of frost has passed you may want to protect them in the greenhouse. If you don’t have one, hold off planting until the end of May. Line your basket well and add a fertilizer rich compost soil. There are plenty of varieties to choose from but trailing plants work well for covering the sides of your basket. Water well, add fertilizer weekly and keep any eye out for pests!
You may find you need to clip any hedging and topiary now to keep its shape neat and tidy. The warmer weather will also mean regular mowing of the lawn will be a necessity now and through the summer months. Once a week should be sufficient, keep on top this and your garden will look tidy all summer!
Deal with weeds
As the temperatures rise your prized plants will spring to life, but unfortunately so will any unwanted weeds! Pull up any seedlings and dig out perennial weeds with a fork to try and get rid of any roots. Time and effort spent on these perennial weeds will benefit not only your borders but also your lawn, as May is the ideal time to identify those nasty dandelions and deal with them.
If you have a pond, pond weed is equally important to deal with and should be removed regularly before it becomes too difficult to manage and harmful to pond life. Make sure you leave any weeds by the side of the pond for a good while before removing just in case any pond life is hiding there!May is a great time to begin stocking ponds with fish, just make sure any aquatic plants have established first.
Keep an eye on growth
Many growing plants may need your attention this month, add plenty of feed to keep them happy. Tall perennials may need trellis and support as they start to grow to keep them straight and upright.It is also important to tie up your clematis to control their climbing in the direction you would like them to grow. For rambling roses, try and tie as horizontal as possible as this will restrict the flow of sap and increase side shoots, thus causing more flowers. Spring flowered Montana type clematis need pruning after flowering to keep them tidy.
Get set for summer
Now would be a great time to think about your summer garden. There’s still a few months left of spring but it won’t be long until the weather improves, in theory. Add some seating areas and get your summer garden furniture now and you’ll be immediately prepared to take advantage of any sunshine we get.
You can start planting summer-flowering bulbs out from mid-April. The winter
months are over and we can expect far less harsh conditions for your plants. Keep an eye on the weather however as frost is always a possibility. If the weather forecast looks chilly, keep your bulbs inside until it perks up a bit. Shrubs and spring flowering bulbs will appreciate a bit of feeding at this time of year in preparation for the growing season.
The first green shoots of new growth are very susceptible to damage from slugs and snails. Container grown plants can be protected by copper rings around pots. Slug pellet application is always effective however a gravel barrier/border can also be a natural deterrent. Weeds will also become an increasing problem with the weather improvements so keep those under control.
The weather will begin to improve and provide a suitable climate for preparations for summer flowering bulbs and the ideal platform for tidying up your borders/shrubs after the long winter. Deadhead spring bedding plants and remove tired winter bedding. Prune shrubs and hedges now before the birds begin to nest to encourage healthy new growth. All deciduous shrubs need pruning as soon as they have flowered. Often the most leggy and untidy shrubs can be pruned hard now to create a much neater and compact specimen.
Treat the Lawn
April is the most important month when caring for your Lawn. Your lawn will need cutting approximately twice a week by mid-April. Think about sowing new lawns or repairing any bare patches. Applying feed at the start of the month will be beneficial for stronger growth. In a mild period, apply feed evenly and economically. Use a wheeled distributor if possible. Now is also the perfect time to apply weed killer to your lawn.
Get your trellis prepared for climbing plants
Now is the time to put up trellis in preparation for your existing or planned climbing plants. Soon your Clematis or Honeysuckle will burst into life and demand climbing assistance.
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