Garden work for January.
Lord Carrington once advised all gardeners ‘Never go into your garden without your secateurs’ – so if you do, have a safe place to keep them as they are expensive to replace. After all the feasting, it is a good idea to get out into the garden and clear the head by having a look around and seeing how it will all develop in the coming season.
This is the time of year when houseplants are most appreciated. Azaleas, cineraria and cyclamen will all help to cheer things up. Do not over water, and most of these plants like cool conditions.
Have a good look at the structure of your garden and decide where to put the plants that give height and substance to the overall shape of the garden.
Make sure that your bulbs that are in pots do not get waterlogged, and keep an eye out for any predators that may be about, such as squirrels, slugs and snails.
Towards the middle of the month start is a good time to make preparations for taking chrysanthemum cuttings. If you have a cold frame make sure it is ready and make up the necessary soil. A good mixture is two parts loam, one part peat, and one part sand to ensure good drainage. Any pots or boxes should be cleaned and the chrysanthemum stools brought in to start them growing sturdy cuttings.
Towards the end of January prune fuchsias. Cut back all side growth hard, to about 2 mm from the stem.
Rhubarb can be forced using an upturned bucket or tub. This should be covered with garden fleece to keep off any frost.
When seed potatoes arrive, keep them in a frost-free place and stand the tubers, eye-end uppermost, in shallow boxes. If you can get large egg trays these are ideal for keeping the tubers upright and just separated to prevent any infection spreading.
To get the best onions start the first sowings this month, and you should give a good dressing of wood ash on the site of the bed that you will use, since onions really do well with a good level of potash.
Why not try some different culinary herbs, for example Basil Lime (Ocimum americanum) which adds a twist of lime flavour to any dish. It can be grown on the window sill. Then there is Dill (Antheum gravolens), Oregano (Origanum vulgare) as well as Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) which is an evergreen and Myrrh (Myrrhis odorate). All can be grown relatively easily from seed.
Clear away the stems and roots of savoy and other green crops that have finished and push on with the winter cultivation whenever this is possible.