Late January in the garden
Late January in your garden
Tidy and Mend
It’s time to have a long hard look at your greenhouse, potting shed or conservatory. Are there heaps of old pots under the shelving gathering dust and cobwebs? Is the glass misted and grubby? If the weather is forecast to be wet and horrible, this is just the time to have a good sort out.
Clean and brush all your plastic sowing trays, old rootrainers and pots, ready for the new sowings. Add a little disinfectant or Jeyes fluid – clean pots mean healthy plants. If you can get the hoover down the garden, try and get to all the corners, if not sweep with a dustpan and brush.
Clean the glass and renew the bubble wrap and capillary matting, there’s nothing better to get you in the mood, for the forthcoming spring. You could also do a sulphur burn overnight in your greenhouse to get rid of any funguses that might be lurking.
Shrubs and Trees
There are often strong winds at this time of year, so check for damage and make sure that there aren’t any branches that need additional pruning.
On heavy clay soils – like mine – weeds won’t have started to germinate yet as heavy soils are slow to warm up at this time of year, but on a chalky, or sandy, free-draining soil things like Hairy Bittercress and Groundsel may already be growing.
The more you do now to stay on top of these, the less work you will have later in spring. It will stop them from becoming established, and they are easier to lift now.
Also consider using a weed supressing mulch sheet to help get rid of weeks with minimal effort.
Grow Your Own Flowers
Now’s the time to plan your cutting garden, order your seeds, summer bulbs and tubers and have a look what changes you want to make to your borders and beds this year. Maybe you’d like to try something new. Have a look at our planting suggestions for some inspiration.
Grow Your Own Veg and Salad
Being realistic about how much veg you can grow, care for and eat is very important. There’s no point growing runner beans, if you haven’t got time to stake them properly. And most things need picking regularly, when they are young and sweet. If you leave crops too long on the plant, they’ll stop producing.
A few treasured veg are better than a patch full of unloved and abandoned crops. By getting ahead with your veg garden now, you’ll save time and you can keep on top of it.
Plan your crop rotation
Crop rotation is practised to avoid the build up of pests and diseases, and to make the best of any manures and fertilisers.
There are 3 main groups of veg, and each group, once grown in the garden, shouldn’t be grown in the same place again for a couple of years. Perennial Veg like asparagus, globe artichokes and rhubarb does not need to be rotated. They stay in the same bed for many years.
- Roots: Beetroot, carrots, kohl rabi, potatoes, turnips, swedes and celeriac
- Add compost over the winter and fertiliser before you sow
- Legumes: leeks and Lettuce: Beans, peas, leeks, onions, shallots, radish
- Add rotted manure in the winter and fertiliser before you sow
- Brassicas: Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, spinach
- Add compost, lime and fertiliser
Here is an example of a four year crop rotation using these groups:
Year One Year Two Year Three Year Four
Area A Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 1
Area B Group 2 Group 3 Group 1 Group 2
Area C Group 3 Group 1 Group 2 Group 3
Veg to sow or plant now:
If you want to get going with some salad, you are okay to sow Corn Salad now undercover, as well as Mizuna, Rocket, Winter Purslane and Mustard. Sow some delicious crunchy Radishes too, and you’ll have a salad feast within 6-8 weeks.
We grow all this sort of thing in gutter pipes. It is the best way, especially if you don’t have lots of room in your garden and keeps everything easy to look after and under control. Radishes can be eaten straight from the gutter – they don’t need to see any garden!
You can sow some herbs undercover now too – really hardy annual and biennials such as chervil, parsley and coriander. Wash the parsley seeds in warm water the night before you want to sow them and then lay them out to dry on kitchen paper overnight. This washes off the germinator inhibitor in the seed coat and will give you a harvest in a shorter time.
There are a few perennial herbs which you could start off now too – French sorrel, chives, lovage and leaf fennel. There’s no hurry on these, but with a little bottom heat, they will germinate fine and get you ahead.
Wildlife in the Garden
Keep bird feeders clean and well stocked
P.S for a delicous and quick winter meal why not try Sarah's duck and peppery leaf salad recipe?