JANUARY – THIS MONTH’S GARDENING JOBS

It’s a new year, January is decidedly dreary so far and we know we are all going to be spending all of our time at home for the rest of the winter. Luckily there are quite a lot of gardening jobs to be getting on with. This is a great time to lay the foundations for the gardening and growing year ahead, to plot and plan and dream yourself away to brighter days. The thought of things blooming in my garden in three or four months will keep me going for these next few weeks and I will take the opportunity to do some tasks that I would perhaps not get around to in normal circumstances. Here are the jobs I will be getting on with this month:

Pruning roses

January is the perfect time to prune roses in the UK. Most of my roses already have lots of new shoots so I want prune now to stop them spending energy on growth that will be pruned away. If you live somewhere colder, check when the best time is to prune in your area. I know a lot of people are a bit nervous of pruning – it’s one of those ‘proper’ gardening jobs that seem daunting because there are so many rules. But actually it’s quite simple and once you get your head around it, a really enjoyable job because you know that by doing it you prepare the roses to give you tons of gorgeous flowers in summer. The most important thing to remember is that it’s nearly impossible to cut too much, roses are vigorous plants and will grow back strongly no matter how you prune. I have been reading a lot about pruning and am going to be doing some fun things with it this year – will share more about that in a separate post. In the meantime I will be sharpening and cleaning my shears.

Plan what to grow this year and order seeds

An ideal tasks for a rainy January day is to sit with a bunch of seed catalogues, a candle and a cup of tea and dream of pretty blooms and gorgeous vegetables. I keep my catalogues by my bedside and leaf through them most evening too. As the first sowings happen in February, it’s great to order your seeds now so you are ready to go. Let’s hope we can avoid the long delivery times we had last year – I had to wait five weeks for my pumpkin seeds!

Clean and organise the greenhouse

It has been so great having the greenhouse in the run up to Christmas, I really loved making my wreaths in there with lots of candles lit and the scent of hyacinths filling the air. I didn’t tidy up afterwards though so now it is super messy in there. In fact, since we put the greenhouse up, I never really organised things properly so I’m looking forward to doing that this month. I will mix my own glass cleaner using kitchen cupboard ingredients and give the whole thing a good scrub before making sure everything is nice and tidy and ready for all the seedlings to move in there in a month or two.

Paint the fence

The suburban-looking, unattractive fence that runs along the left side of my garden is my least favourite element in the whole space. My climbing roses have done a great job, putting on a lot of growth in just a few years to cover a large section of it but as soon as their leaves drop, the bare fence stares at me and annoys me with its ugliness . Finally I have mustered up the energy to paint it – a dark green backdrop to my tulips in spring will be a huge improvement and I can’t wait to get started. Just need to find a couple of dry days and I will be out there with my paint brush. Any big jobs like this are of course perfect to get out of the way now before you get busy tending to seedlings and before plants start putting on growth and getting in the way.

Make bird feed cakes

I must say I’m really happy that we’ve had some proper cold weather and that it looks like it will stay for another while. The very mild winters of the last few years just don’t feel right, I think most of our plants need a good cold spell in order to go to sleep properly before they wake up again in spring. And as much as I love it, I need a break from the garden too! So I’m not complaining about the low temperatures at all, but it means it’s more important than ever to help the birds. I will be making my own bird feed cakes to hang in the apple tree. Recipe to follow!

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