January’s here, the shortest day is behind us and it’s the start of another great gardening year. To help you get your garden into shape for spring, we’ve put together our top 15 gardening tips for January.
- Recycle your Christmas tree. If you have a garden shredder, shred the branches of your tree – the shreddings make an excellent mulch. Alternatively, check whether your local council runs a Christmas tree collection service.
- Provided your soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged, you can plant shrubs, trees and hedging now while the plants are dormant, giving the roots time to settle in before spring.
- Spread a thick layer of compost or well-rotted stable manure on beds and borders, then leave the worms to work it into the soil, improving your soil structure ready for the year ahead.
- Remove old hellebore leaves to make it easier to see the flowers. This also helps stops the spread of hellebore black spot to new foliage. Deadhead winter pansies for another flush of flowers.
- Clear heavy snowfalls from greenhouses and cold frames to prevent damage, and gently shake snow from hedges and conifers to stop branches snapping off under the weight.
- Watch for the first spring bulbs. Winter aconites, irises, snowdrops and the first early daffodils all start appearing about now, so be careful where you put your feet when you’re in the garden.
- Look after your wildlife. Keep bird feeders topped up with high-energy food like sunflower seeds and suet balls, and defrost bird baths so birds can drink and keep their feathers clean.
- Clean greenhouses, pots and tools now while you have the time. Spring will be here before you know it!
- If you remembered to lift and store your dahlia and begonia tubers in autumn, well done you! Check them this month to make sure they aren’t in danger of drying out or rotting.
- Start forcing rhubarb by putting covers over the crowns to block out the light, and you’ll be eating delicious sweet pink rhubarb stems in about eight weeks’ time.
- Plan your vegetable garden and order seeds, so you’re ready to plant as soon as the weather warms up.
- Harvest parsnips and leeks for delicious winter soups and stews.
- Prune gooseberries and redcurrants by cutting back sideshoots to three buds from the base of the stem.
- Prune apple and pear trees, removing any dead or damaged branches and reducing last year’s growth by about a third. Don’t prune plums, cherries or apricots until summer.
- Sow winter salads in trays in your greenhouse or on sunny windowsill for a taste of fresh salad to banish the winter blues.
We’ve got seeds, tools and everything else you need to kick-start your gardening year, so come and see what’s in store!