January days are short and often grey and cold but it’s the start of a new year and time to plan your garden.
On fine dry days there is plenty to be done in the garden to prepare for the growing season. Tidying your borders, winter pruning and improving the soil by adding plenty of organic matter will get you off to a great start for the year.
When it is too wet or too cold to venture outside January is the perfect month for a spot of seed sowing and armchair planning. Why not have a go at growing some fruit and vegetables or grow your own flowers for cutting. For convenience it’s best to order your seeds online… there are some Seeds to Sow in January if you are itching to get started like me!
UK Weather in January
January is one of the coldest months here in the UK. With daytime temperatures falling to around 6°C – 8°C in the south and barely reaching 2°C – 4°C in Scotland it most definitely feels chilly!
We can expect deep depressions crossing the Atlantic Ocean which will bring lots of cloud with rain and gale force winds mainly to the North and West of the UK. Heavy rain is likely to fall on 7 days in the North and West and just one or two days in the South and East.
Over northern hills snow is likely to fall for 10 -14 days each January. In the South and South East it’s likely that snow and sleet will fall just a couple of times this month. During quiet settled spells clear skies mean that ground frost can be a regular feature of January mornings. Ground frost is usually quick to thaw leaving bright blue sky and crisp fresh air for us to enjoy.
January in the Garden.
January is great for planting bare root trees and shrubs, biennials and perennials as long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Bare root plants are available to buy now in plant nurseries and good garden centres. If the ground is easy to work your new plants will have a couple of months to establish a good root system before they burst into full leaf and flower in spring.
Winter pruning. Now is the time to prune trees, shrubs, fruit trees and climbers. Remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood then prune to shape or to encourage fruit production. Prune Wisteria to two or three buds from the main stem. Prune deciduous hedges and shrubs and take hardwood cuttings from the prunings.
Clear any remaining fallen leaves from borders. I’m making sure I’m removing wet leaves from the crowns of herbaceous perennials and clumps of bulbs. Plants need light and air… a thick mulch of wet leaves may kill them.
Dig well rotted manure into your beds to improve the soil. Nearby stables will probably be very happy to let you take away some of their manure free of charge. They often have it bagged up ready for immediate removal. If you can’t find a local supply you can buy it from topsoil and compost suppliers and they will deliver.
Plant bare root roses, shrubs, trees and deciduous bare root hedges. Bare root plants are only available in the dormant season (October -March) so there’s 3 months left to buy and plant them. They are much less expensive than plants raised in pots and even better for a weary gardener… much easier to plant!
Lift and Divide overgrown clumps of perennials. If you are running out of space in your borders you can plant them in large patio pots. I’m potting up some of my large Hostas this month to add a bit of height to my spring border and others such as Alchemilla can look beautiful in pots.
Plant Rhubarb Buy new plants or if you have an established clump you can divide it and replant.
In the Greenhouse:
Sow early vegetables under cover.
Most vegetable seeds need 13C to germinate. Now is the time to sow Tomatoes, Lettuce, Broad Beans, Salad Onions, Spinach, Peas, Onions, Carrots, Turnip, Cauliflower and Summer Cabbage.
Sow hardy annual flowers under cover. Hardy plants like SWEET PEAS can be sown in January for early flowering this year. I’ll save half the seeds to sow again in spring so flowers will be produced for months longer. Half Hardy Annuals such as Cobaea and Cleome can also to be sown this month indoors.
Outside… Warm the soil ready for planting your early veg and flowers.
Build raised beds or cover prepared vegetable and flower beds with plastic or cloches.
When the weather is too bad to be outdoors, a spot of armchair gardening is lovely.
Now is a great time to order your flower, herb and vegetable seeds so you can be sure you’ll get your favourites.
- Feed your garden birds and provide fresh water daily if possible.
- Count your garden birds. It’s the BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH on Saturday 26th to Monday 28th January 2019. Can you spare one hour to join in and help by counting your garden birds?