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WAHGA - Jobs for January

Updated: Jan 11, 2023


What an interesting December. That cold spell was long enough to kill off any remaining tender vegetables, and cause the vegetation on herbaceous perennials to die back. But don’t be fooled into thinking that you can put off visiting your plot until February, there is much to do that can’t be put off any longer! And in the garden there are numerous pruning and cutting back jobs to do, so let’s hope for some crisp, sunny days to encourage us to get busy outside


VEGETABLES

  • Remove any rotting leaves from parsnips, celeriac and and other root veg you still have in the ground and continue to and harvest. At this stage think about harvesting them all and keeping dry and cool in a garage or shed.

  • Brassicas are frost hardy so continue to harvest sprouts and kale. Remove any yellowing leaves so that fungal diseases don't take hold.

  • Salad crops including rocket and spinach are still available to harvest.

  • Broad beans that were planted in autumn have taken a bit a battering with the snow and frost, but they will recover quickly, and as they grow remember to give them a bit of support.

FRUIT

  • Divide rhubarb crowns if they have grown very large. Spare crowns will go quickly if you put them on the allotment Sharing Table! For an early crop of rhubarb, cover one of your crowns with, ideally, an upturned terracotta pot. This environment will result in very pink, sweet stems of rhubarb which are a spring treat. Don’t force all your rhubarb in this way otherwise you won’t have any for later in the season

  • It’s the perfect time to plant bare root fruit plants, such as raspberries, currant bushes, fruit trees. Planting now gives the plants a chance to develop a strong root system. Take a look at the Blackmoor website to get ideas of what’s available.

  • It is also the best time for pruning many fruit plants - cut back autumn fruiting raspberries, prune currants into a goblet shape, and prune apple and pear trees. Stone fruit trees, such as plum and cherry, should be pruned in late spring/early summer after flowering.

  • Figs trees must be pruned when they are fully dormant so now is the perfect time. They just need to be thinned to allow good airflow, and keep them to a size which allows easy harvesting of the fruit.

SOWING

Though there is plenty of planting that can be done at this time of year, do not be tempted to sow any seeds in the ground as they are likely to rot in the damp, cold weather. If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse then you can consider sowing towards the end of the month, but unless you have somewhere to keep them warm and covered it’s probably best to wait until February or March to start sowing seeds.


IN THE GARDEN

  • If you haven’t done so already, cut back herbaceous perennials such as penstemon, rudbeckia, persicaria and leucanthemum. Tidy up around the plants and mulch in a doughnut style around the plant. Roses can also be pruned now, and as they are hungry plants, they will also benefit from a good mulch.

  • Summer flowering shrubs can be pruned now, but leave spring flowering bushes until they have flowered. Wisteria has a specific pruning regime to ensure it flowers well, and should be pruned in February, though late January is also fine!

  • You can still pick up some discounted spring flowering bulbs, you can still plant now for flowers in spring.

  • It’s also a good time to plant bare root hedging and trees. Do plan tree planting carefully, looking at the final height a spread. A native hedge provides good carbon capture, and benefits wildlife, so might be a good low cost alternative to a tree, and is easy to maintain with annual pruning - no tree surgeons required!

WILDLIFE

In the garden leave out high energy food for birds such as fat balls and sunflower seeds. A clean bowl of fresh water is very welcome for birds as a bathing and drinking spot. Try not to disturb any wood and leaf as these may be housing overwintering insects, toads, and perhaps even a hedgehog.


GENERAL

  • Continue to weed and mulch the beds in your garden and allotment.

  • On the allotment, cover empty beds (ideally with a layer of well rotted manure, sheet of cardboard or recycled plastic sheeting) as this will help protect and improve the soil over the winter and warm it for planting in early spring.

  • Sort through your garden tools and, if you’ve got one, tidy up the shed. If you do have a shed think about installing a water butt, or adding an additional one.

  • Keep composting! The bigger the pile, the warmer it will get, chop up anything you add, as smaller vegetation will compost more quickly. Pick up a bin from Freecycle, or make one from pallets.

  • Check your seed stock and start planning for the next growing year. Parsnip seeds are best bought fresh every year, but many other seeds will last 2 or 3 years. Order seed potatoes and seeds now to make sure you’re ready for the spring.

  • Plan your allotment - draw out and plan the beds with what you’re going to plant and where. Think about what went well, what new crops you’d like to try and what isn’t worth growing again. Once spring arrives it can then be all systems go!

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