January is usually cold and wet – not very inviting for going down the allotment. However, there are things to be done indoors – such as planning the plot and ordering seeds for the coming season. Also some seeds can be started indoors or in the greenhouse
- Plan this year’s vegetable plantings, ideally rotating crops by not planting in the same place as last year..
- By mid January, start ‘chitting’ tubers of early potatoes in trays in a cool, light, frost-free location.
- Continue to harvest sprouts, kale, cabbage, leeks and parsnips as needed.
- Keep kale, winter cabbages and other brassicas covered with netting to protect them from hungry pigeons. Remove any yellowed leaves, so that fungal diseases don’t take hold.
- Sow summer brassicas and spinach on a windowsill to plant out in late February.
- Aubergines can be sown under cover on a sunny windowsill from late January.
- Begin forcing rhubarb for an early crop by placing a bucket or forcing jar over the crop.
- Prune gooseberries, redcurrants and whitecurrants by removing dead wood and low lying shoots. Prune last year’s growth of the main stems by about a half. Prune all side-shoots back to one to three buds from their bases.
- Prune overgrown blackcurrant bushes; remove a third of the old, weak or unproductive stems to ground level to encourage new basal shoots
- Prune apples and pears to control their shape and size, maintaining an open centre. Do not remove more than 20% of the crown in one winter
- Prune grapevines before mid January
- Plant bare-root fruit trees. If they need a frame to grow on (e.g. espalier apple trees), now is a good time to construct it.
- Apply winter washes to fruit trees to control overwintering pests.
- Sow later sweet peas now and pot on autumn-sown sweet peas, pinching out the tip after 4 pairs of leaves have developed or when plants have reached 3.5 cms. Place on a sunny windowsill, in a cold frame or greenhouse.
- Clear any remaining debris on the plot and cover cleared soil with weed suppressant.
- Complete winter digging of bare beds and cover the ground to warm beds for early crops.
- Spread manure to areas as required to increased fertility and improve the soil structure.
- Clean polytunnels and greenhouses, pots and seed-trays ready for the coming growing season
Gardening for wildlife
- Put up a bird feeder on your plot and regularly replenish it.
- Clear out bird boxes by removing old nests and rinse out boxes