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Gardening Jobs Ė January

January does not normally have the kind of weather that often tempts you out into the garden. Look out for the few bright sunny days and make the most of them. The soil is probably getting too waterlogged to be digging but itís a good time to plant fruit trees, bushes and asparagus crowns. Itís a great month for sitting indoors with a hot drink and planning what you are going to grow this year and where. If youíve ever ordered seeds before youíve probably got a few seed catalogues you can look through. Grow your favourites but maybe try something new this year too. If youíve got a greenhouse and want an early start then you can look at planting chilli and tomato seeds indoors towards the end of the month.

The Vegetable Patch in January

Spread well-rotted manure and compost
Add bulk and nutrients to your soil. You donít have to dig it in yet, just spread it over the soil and the weather and worms will do some of the work for you.

Sow chilli and tomato seeds
Both these crops benefit from a long growing season. Start them off indoors towards the end of the month to give them a flying start.

Harvest winter veg
There are still a lot of vegetables that can be picked, mostly roots and brassicas, including leeks, scorzonera, celeriac, parsnips, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, swede and turnip.
Donít dig your soil
Donít be tempted to dig heavy waterlogged soil. It wonít be enjoyable and you can easily destroy the soil structure. Donít dig if the soil sticks to your boots as you walk across. Wait until drier weather. There is also very reliable information about never having to dig soil at all, just weed, mulch, plant and harvest, with no need to use a spade.

Chit potatoes
If youíve already got your seed potatoes (many are in the garden centres now) then
chit them in old egg boxes. Keep in the cool, light (but not direct sunlight) and dry. A shed window is ideal.

Hunt for slugs
Anything left in the garden will probably have a few slugs curled up beneath it. Lift any pots, buckets and planks, and remove all dead leaves and plant debris. Start the year with as few slugs as possible.

Protect cauliflowers
Snap and bend one of the leaves over the cauliflower head to protect it from frosts. This will also help keep the florets white.

Buy seeds and garden supplies
Take a trip to your local garden centre or buy your seeds online. January is a good month to think about what you will be growing this year, and any supplies you will be needing, such as seeding compost, plants pots and trays. Be prepared so that you are ready to go.

Plant salad leaves
Salad leaves can be grown undercover, either in the house or in a greenhouse. They grow more slowly than in spring but will still give you lovely fresh leaves. Cress is a great crop to grow in the winter and livens up all kinds of sandwiches.

The Fruit Garden in January

Plant fruit trees and bushes
All bare-rooted fruit trees and bushes can be planted this month, as long as the ground is not frozen. They need to be planted whilst dormant.

Check stakes
Make sure all stakes and supports are strong and doing their job. Winter storms can often weaken them.

Cut down autumn fruiting raspberry canes
If you have not done so already, cut all autumn fruiting raspberry canes to about 3cm (1in) above soil level.

Mulch blueberries with Christmas Tree clippings
Chop up a few of the branches of your Christmas tree and put them around the base of blueberry plants. This helps to keep the soil acidic.

Other Gardening Jobs in January

Turn your compost
Adding oxygen helps to keep the bacteria in your compost working, creating compost more quickly.

Browse the seed catalogues
Looking through the seed catalogues can be very enjoyable. Thereís just so much choice out there. Go for your old favourites or try some new varieties.

Plant your Christmas Tree outside
If you bought a potted or rooted Christmas tree, and youíve got space in your garden, then plant it outside. Hopefully it will survive to see another Christmas next year.

Keep feeding the birds
As the weather gets colder, birds find it increasingly difficult to find food. Put out plenty of seed, nuts and fresh water for them each day. They will help eat your pests in the spring and summer.

Michael Gourlay Chairman

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