Jobs to do in the January Garden
For the gardener, January is an exciting time. Days may be bleak and cold but they are getting longer and even at this time the garden is far from lacking in interest. Early bulbs are bravely starting to push their way through cold earth to brighten dark days – harbingers of an approaching spring.
If you enjoy raising plants from seed, you can begin sowing them by the end of this month. Provided they are kept in a sunny, frost-free environment they will get off to a flying start. No matter how long you’ve been gardening, raising your own plants from seed is very satisfying. To get seeds such as tomatoes and tender bedding plants to germinate they will need some heat, which is where a propagator is so useful. There is quite a selection available and the investment should pay back as you can save money on buying bedding plants later in the year.
Keep off the lawn if it’s frozen, but on a good day improve the drainage by using a fork, pushed into the ground to about 15cm. For larger areas you can hire mechanical spikers to aerate the grass. Immediately afterwards spread in horticultural sand for increased drainage. Worms are quite active in lawns at this time of year, which is a benefit, but make sure you brush off the casts, which not only look a bit unsightly but will encourage weed seeds to grow. Before the mowing season begins, take your lawnmower in for a service this month; you’ll be glad you did in the spring.
Wisterias require winter pruning by the end of February at the latest. With no leaves on the plants you can see exactly what needs to be pruned. Shorten all the shoots back to two or three buds from the main stem. This encourages new flowers to give a spectacular display in the spring. Virginia creepers, valued for their autumn foliage colour, have a habit of working their way into window frames, doors and gutters so cut them back hard now to save damage being done. They grow back quickly so don’t be gentle with them!