January Garden Tips
Garden work for January 2018.
Christmas is over and it is time to start getting down to the reality that is gardening. There is no better way of getting back into shape than by engaging with your plot even if the plants appear to be sleeping. One of the first things is to check trees, shrubs and roses that may have been planted in the autumn to make sure they are secure. If they have become loosened through wind or frost damage, re-firm them thoroughly. Do this when the soil is reasonably dry.
Make preparations for taking chrysanthemum cuttings. Get the frame ready and make up the necessary medium for potting on. A good mixture is 1 part bagged compost, 2 parts loam and one part sharp sand.
Now is the time to pot on autumn sown sweet peas. Make sure the tops have been pinched out to encourage bushy lower growth. Provide them with small twigs to support the growing stems. Keep a sharp eye out for any slug damage as they can still be active if the temperature rises and they will be very hungry.
Now is the time to order new corms of gladioli. When they arrive unpack them and keep them in shallow boxes in a frost free area. Remember to label the variety and colour for future reference.
When your seeds arrive from the supplier keep them in a cool dry place until required. Protect pea seeds in particular because mice love them, and they have already got into our garden shed where they have started on anything that they can reach. Remember paper is no barrier to sharp teeth, and it makes a lovely nesting material for them.
If you have access to temperature controlled environment like a seed bed with soil-warming cables, you can start early crops off like onions, carrots, lettuce and radish. But don’t be tempted by a few fine days to go out and sow seeds too early as seeds really do need to have a constant temperature throughout and the weather may very well get cold again, especially in February and early March.
Rhubarb can be forced using an upturned bucket or tub. This should be covered with garden fleece which will help to keep off any frost.
Make sure to get your seed potatoes from your usual supplier. It seems to me that the popular varieties sell out very quickly once they are on sale in garden centres. In order to maximise crop yields they need to be ‘chitted’. To do this, keep them in a frost-free place and stand the tubers, eye-end uppermost, in shallow boxes. If you can get large egg trays (called ‘Keyes’ trays they are designed to have 30 eggs). These are ideal for keeping the tubers upright and just separated to prevent any infection spreading.