It will probably be too wet to work the ground during this month, even if the soil is not frozen. However, there are a few jobs that can be done on your plot such as pruning fruit trees. There is also plenty to keep you busy in the greenhouse or polytunnel such as cleaning the glass or palstic and washing pots. Certain seeds can be sown under cover later on in the month.
- 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