Our top 10 gardening tips for January

Flowers with frost upon them.

Start your new year right with our top 10 gardening tips for January.

It might feel like there’s little that can be done in the garden when the new year rolls around. You look out of your window and all you can see is rain, bare branches being blown about, and, on particularly cold days, the dreaded frost.

However, if you think your garden is a barren and boring place with nothing to do this time of year, let us set you back on the right path. Despite the potentially unfavourable weather, there are still plenty of plants for you to admire and tasks to complete.

The few plants that do dare to blossom in January are truly beautiful, and without the distraction of other blooms, now is the perfect time to appreciate the outlines of bare branches, the fascinating hues and textures of bark, and the reassuringly solid shapes of evergreens.

Don’t think of January as a dark, cold month. Think of it as a month of optimism. It’s the start of a new year, and you should get everything in place to make it look its best for when spring arrives.

To help get you started, we’ve collated our top 10 gardening tips for January. You can read this blog from top to bottom, or you can click the tip that most interests you from the list below to go there immediately.

Have fun – and happy new year!

Contents

Recycle your Christmas tree

We know, we know. We wish it was still Christmas, too.

However, the joy of your tree doesn’t have to end when you take the decorations down!

If you want to put your tree’s needles to good use, turn them into mulch for the garden. Just take its branches and shake off the dead needles outside, placing them in a pile. They will decompose slowly into a nutritious mulch.

You can use some of the larger pieces of wood from the tree as firewood. Although, shredded bark can also be used as mulch.

If you don’t have access to a shredder, you can chop the tree up with secateurs – sawing the trunk into short sections will help. Not only does this greatly speed up their decomposition, but it makes a brilliant addition to your compost heap.

If this seems a bit much for you, check your local council’s website to learn about any recycling programmes they may have.

Remember to lay down protective plastic sheeting in the car if you’re driving the tree to a recycling facility; otherwise, you’ll still be sweeping up needles the following Christmas.

If this all seems a bit too much, you can also consider getting an artificial Christmas tree for next year!

Improve your soil

Extend the “new year, new me” promise to your soil! Just make sure you match the improvements to the specific types of soil in your garden.

Also, make sure you have all the gardening tools you need to get the job done ahead of time!

For clay soil

To increase drainage, add large amounts of bulky organic waste, such as garden compost, and grit or coarse sand.

Only work on clay soil if it’s been dry. Otherwise, it will become a sticky mess!

For sandy soil

Dig in plenty of organic matter to aid water retention.

For chalky soil

Add organic matter to increase the soil depth, aid water retention, and improve the nutrient content.

For shallow soil

Building raised beds allows for greater planting depth in areas with very shallow soil.

Fill them with a blend of topsoil of high quality, compost, and manure. Each year’s addition of organic matter will gradually increase soil depth.

Plant winter aconites

One of the first bulbs to bloom each year is the winter aconite.

Once planted, they have a gorgeous appearance and spread to create carpets of bright yellow flowers.

The best time to purchase fresh plants is right now, while they are actively growing, as they have a higher chance of success than dry bulbs put at other periods of the year.

If you’re planting them near patios or other types of hard paving, make sure it’s well drained as they dislike standing water around their roots. If you are planting winter aconites into pots or containers, then choose something at least 18 inches (45cm) high so there is plenty of room for your plants to spread out as they grow.

Get everything tidy and organised

Get your garden ready for the rest of the year.

Every garden will be different, but here’s a quick checklist to get you started:

  • Sort through the trash that has accumulated in your shed and throw it away.
  • To ensure that everything is in working order when you need it in the spring, clean and oil your tools.
  • Sharpening blades on tools such as secateurs and hoes makes all the difference in how easy they are to use.
  • Clean seed trays and flowerpots. Make sure to use warm water, otherwise, the task may be chilly and unpleasant!
  • It’s also worth cleaning plant labels. A quick rub with a scouring cloth will remove old writing and saves you the cost of buying new label.

Keep your greenhouse in check

Pick up any dropped flowers or leaves. Additionally, get rid of any dead plant materials you find because keeping them around might cause fungus and grey mould, which rots plants.

Check for damage on plants that are dormant. Examine any sensitive plants you are overwintering inside and get rid of any sick growth right away to prevent it from rotting.

Check for leaks. Examine the structure for any cracks or holes that might let in moisture or pests. Make sure there’s no condensation on your roof, either; if there is, it could be a sign of a problem with heat retention within your greenhouse itself.

Plant lilies in pots in your greenhouse

Plant some lily bulbs in substantial pots now to enjoy in the summer.

When they are ready to flower, use them to fill in the gaps in the border after growing them in the greenhouse.

For summer blooms, you can alternatively plant them right into the border in February.

Lilies are quite delicate so keeping them warm and sheltered will help them thrive. Give them high-quality soil, pots with drainage holes, and a depth of at least 10cm.

Plant new fruit trees

Make sure the soil isn’t frozen or wet before planting. Add lots of well-rotted manure or garden compost to the planting holes. If the weather is poor when your trees arrive, pot them up or wrap the dampened root ball and store them in a cold but frost-free shed.

To protect newly planted trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, from wind damage, erect a windbreak to shelter the plant. The windbreak can be in the form of hessian, horticultural fleece, bubble plastic or strong polythene, tied securely to a framework around the plants.

Plant garlic

A garlic bulb should break into 10-12 cloves for planting. Plant these 15cm apart and each one will produce a bulb that will store until the following spring.

Bury the tip to prevent birds pulling them out again. If the cloves push out of the ground as they grow, simply use a trowel to plant them deeper.

Plant each clove about two inches below the surface of the soil so that its tip sticks out above ground level (about one inch). You don’t want them too deep or they won’t grow properly!

Once you’ve planted all of your cloves and watered them thoroughly, cover them with mulch such as leaves or straw to protect against frost damage while they’re dormant during wintertime; this will also keep moisture levels consistent throughout dry months ahead when plants are going through active growth periods instead.

Buy onion sets

Growing onions from sets is a far less fiddly way to raise onions than sowing seed. Look out for the small bulbs in garden centres now.

Choose ones that are firm to the touch and store them in a dry place, ready for planting in March.

‘Red Baron’ is a good red variety, and ‘Selton’ and ‘Jet Set’ produce solid brown onions that store well.

Look after your lawn

Our increasingly unpredictable climate means we can get mild periods of weather even in the depths of winter. Grass is quick to respond to the mildness and puts on lush growth.

If the ground isn’t wet or frozen, it’s a good idea to cut the grass, no matter how early in the year. It’ll keep your lawn looking tidy and avoids the grass from getting long and difficult to cut.

Keep off icy grass. Don’t walk or work on the grass when it’s frozen or frosted, otherwise, when it thaws out, your footprints will show up as yellow patches.

If you mow your lawn, don’t leave grass cuttings lying around – it’s too cold and damp to allow decomposition. Collect cuttings and add them to the compost heap or put them in your green waste bin if your council provides one. A quick way to improve the appearance of your lawn is to redefine its edges using a half-moon edging tool or a spade. Compost the trimmings.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed our gardening tips for January!

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We’ll see you this time next month for our February gardening tips.

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