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January in the garden

by User Not Found | Feb 02, 2015

It might be cold but there is plenty to do outside! Follow Jean's tips and prepare your garden for sowing and planting season.

It’s a good idea to clean your shed and greenhouse now while the garden is quiet. Scrub all work surfaces, shelves and floor with Jeyes fluid to get rid of the pests and diseases. Clean all your gardening tools with warm soapy water and sharpen them. It’s also a good time to service your lawnmower, this way you will avoid spring rush.

Remove any damaged branches from trees and shrubs by cutting them back to the healthy branch or the trunk. Now is a good time to do this while they are dormant. Wait until March to nip off any frost damaged tips of branches. They will look nice and tidy produce new growth later in spring.

Improve the soil. Remove weeds for the beds by hand but be careful not to thread on them as this compacts the soil, especially when it’s wet. Make sure to get out all deep to roots. When the soil is weed free you can use compost or manure to spread on the beds. Cover the beds with black polythene, carpet or ground cover fabric until you want to use the beds. This will help the manure/compost decompose and will warm the ground. Then dig it over before you plant later in Spring.

Mulch. Put plenty of mulch around tender shrubs to keep their roots warm and well fed. It also helps supress weeds.

Check the vegetables stored over winter and get rid of the ones showing the signs of rot. Make sure they are well insulated, even if they are in a shed. We can get very severe frosts in January and February.

Recycle your Christmas tree. Nearly every local authority in the country has a recycling service, but before you bring yours make sure that you have taken off all decorations and tinsel as well as any screwed in stands as these can destroy the blades of the chipper. Your Christmas tree will be chipped into mulch which is used in local landscaping projects which helps to conserve soil and keep plants healthy.

Keep feeding birds but beware of pigeons! They are after your winter greens such as cabbage and purple sprouting broccoli so make sure that the netting is secure. And elevated up from the plants – clever pigeons will peck through the holes in the netting.

Clean paths. If you are using salt to clear your paths of ice be careful. Try to keep it to minimum as the salt might damage leaves and roots of plants surrounding the path.

Check if the high winds haven’t loosened soil around your newly planted trees and shrubs. Adjust the tree tie or stake and firm the soil. This will help the roots establish once the temperatures increase.

Wrap up. Ensure that the tender plants are protected by straw or fleece. Make sure that you’ve wrapped non frost proof containers and pots with bubble wrap or fleece. Or bring them inside.

Don’t overwater your house plants. They don’t need as much water during winter months. Also don’t water them with cold water as this might bring shock to the root system. Let the water sit and reach the room temperature before you water the plants.

Plan your garden. While the evenings and nights are long and cold in January plan what you will do in the garden this year. Is there a dark corner you what to brighten up? Or an awkward area that never looks ‘Just Right’. Do some research now and purchase a couple of plants every month. That way you’ll have year-round colour for next year.

Pick out your seeds and buy first early potatoes. Seeds and seed potatoes will be in stock by the end of the month. Purchase seed potatoes and sprout them early. St Patrick’s Day is the traditional day for planting seed potatoes but if the spring is mild you may be able to plant them earlier than this so you can harvest them earlier. Try one new seed that you have never sowed before. Is there a veg that you buy all the time but have never planted? Sow it this year and see how you might surprise yourself!!

Jean’s Bio  
Hi my name is Jean, I am a horticulturist with CountryLife in the Ashford branch. I grew up on a farm where we always had a veg garden, so you could say that horticulture and agriculture is in the blood! I studied Landscape Horticulture in UCD and worked part-time in Fernhill Garden Centre, Athlone while I was in college. After graduating I worked in Landscape Architecture for three years before returning to the Garden Centre trade. I began in Keane’s Garden Centre, Kilcolgan, Co Galway and returned to Fernhill Garden Centre for three years before joining CountryLife.  Being a horticulturalist is a great job, you are surrounded by nature every day and there is always something to be done. Meeting customers and giving the advice is very rewarding especially when they report back positive results. I love growing my own fruit and veg and I’m always trying new varieties and ways of growing. The seasons are always changing and while the weather is challenging in Ireland, I believe we grow the best produce in the world.