January is a quiet time in the garden with most of us deciding to stay indoors and enjoy our garden through the window rather than brave a damp or chilly pottering session outside, if you are one of the braver ones amongst us then have a look back at our November and December guides to check you haven’t missed any important jobs.
No matter how tempted you may be, it is important to stay off waterlogged ground as you will compact your lawn and flowerbeds so it may be worth looking for tasks that avoid your flowerbeds and lawn. If it’s a dry January then there are jobs to be getting on with but if it’s wet it may be worth staying indoors until next month.
Keep paths, steps, driveways and patios clear from leaves. This is important so that the surfaces don’t become slippery; if they do you may need to treat them with a chemical to kill off the algae or moss. Prevention is better than cure so five minutes with a broom each week can save you money, harmful chemicals, and give you some a few minutes healthy outdoor exercise which is good for both body and mind.
If there is snow forecast, keep an eye on how it settles and brush it off fragile plants as the extra weight can snap branches easily.
CLEAN UP THE GARDEN
If you didn’t have a clean out in the autumn then you could empty and clean water-butts so that water isn’t full of algae for next season. Check the forecast before you start as you don’t want a load of water freezing on your paths and patio. Drain out the water, flush through any leaves and give your butt a really good scrub to clean out green algae. This time of year they will soon re-fill and you’ll have a healthier supply of water for you pots.
Speaking of pots, if you like to grow your plants from seeds then now is a good time to inspect your stock. Trays and pots can be cleaned ready for use if you didn’t do it last season and you’ll have plenty of time to order replacements. Black plastic is usually not recyclable so you may want to speak to your garden centre to see if they have a friendlier alternative or do a bit of research online. There are numerous low cost biodegradable pots available and also a variety of bamboo products too. Bamboo is a really sustainable substance that is durable, looks great and doesn’t cost the earth.
GARDENING ODD JOBS
Cut down flowering perennials to ground level to tidy.
Fleece or netting should be used to protect vulnerable plants from severe frost.
Tree ties and stakes should be checked for loosening.
Bird baths and feeders should be cleaned and re-filled regularly and ice melted if it has frozen.
Provide wildlife with a safe winter haven by not clearing and tidying too much. Historically we have thought of all bugs as pests, but pollinating insects are in rapid decline as are bugs that help condition our soil. You could think about how your plot could help restore natures helpers during the coming gardening season by cutting back or eliminating chemical use altogether. Put up bug houses, pile up a mini log pile and leave some dead leaves on foliage. Feed birds regularly if you are able and leave out water for them in a birdbath, accessible pond or bowl. If cats are an issue, make sure you feed up out of their reach or remove their hiding places.