Happy New Year everyone! The holidays were not what any of us expected this year but with the days now getting noticeably longer and lighter all we can do is hope for a 'light at the end of the tunnel'. The cold, damp conditions and mud have forced me to retreat momentarily inside to take stock of what I want to do this year in the garden. I find planning is best achieved with cup of tea, seed catalogues, a few garden magazines, photos of the garden from last summer and a warm fire.
Many of us had the space and time to establish or expand our garden to allow for growing vegetables this past summer. Now is the time to take stock of what grew best, what you enjoyed eating the most and those vegetables that you would like to try. Sarah Raven has a wonderful article on growing vegetables that I find really helpful in assessing how to best allocate my space. On my list are courgettes (not too many), dwarf bush & climbing french beans, beetroot, kohlrabi (my favourite), curly kale, black kale, squash (lots!), tomatoes (can never have enough), aubergine and cucumbers. But if last year is anything to go by do order your seeds and seed compost early before stock runs out!
Top January jobs to do according to the RHS are:
Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch
Clean pots and greenhouses ready for Spring
Disperse worm casts
Inspect any stored Dahlia, Bergenia or Canna tubers for rot or disease
Prune apple and pear trees as well as currant and gooseberry bushes
Start forcing rhubarb
Plan your vegetable crop rotation for the coming season
Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds
Plant bare-root fruit and nut trees and bushes (as long as the ground isn't frozen)
Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days
I also find Sarah Raven's monthly gardening advice to be a very helpful reminder of jobs that I should be getting on with now. She divides her advice into: The Cutting Garden; Perennials, Shrubs & Trees; The Vegetable Garden; and Other Jobs. Do have a look here. And for those of you who attended our lecture last September with Ben Pope, you might also enjoy his blog where he reminds us that 'from winter pruning and planting, to ordering seed and organising the shed, there is a job to suit every type of weather'. In January, I tend to focus on pruning our fruit trees and bushes before turning my attention to cutting back and clearing beds in preparation for mulching them in March just before new growth really starts. Everyone has different practices though so do what works best for you and your plants.