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What to do in the garden in January

January is the perfect time to start planning and preparing your garden for the year ahead.

Every month I type in what to do in the garden in January, February, March…and always find myself having to consult multiple websites to get a full answer.

So I’ve decided to make my own list.

What to do in the garden in January…when you have no time

…and probably a to do list as long as both arms anyway.

Here are a few things you can do to get started:

Clean and organise

clear away any dead leaves, prune shrubs and trees, discard old mulch, and tidy up the area in preparation for spring. Even better, task the kids to do some clearning of leaves for you. 20p a bag is my current going rate.

Audit and move

There are always plants in the wrong place. This is where I like to go through my Google Photos account and see what things were like in late spring and summer.

Divide and conquer

What needs to be divided right now?

For me, it’s my lupins. These purple beasts have got very out of control, but can be hard to divide, so I end up slicing bits off the edges to replant.

Other plants that can be divided during the month of January include: Hostas, Daylilies, Sedums, Bleeding Hearts, Irises, and Asters.

When dividing plants like these, use a sharp spade or knife to cut the crown of each plant into several smaller pieces before planting them back into the soil.

This will ensure that each piece has a good chance of surviving and growing properly when placed in its new environment. Be sure to water the replanted divisions thoroughly to encourage strong root growth.

Confession: I once used the bread knife for a hosta and it was perfect. Absolutely cleaned and sterilised afterwards though. Don’t tell the other half.

Gather supplies

I’d love to get all my supplies in one bulk order, but the cost of it all freaks me out, so I always end up drip buying the things that I need.

But this year I’m trying to be clever about buying and setting up reminder so I have what I need when I need it.

So organic slug pellets I’ve got in now as they are already chomping on the emerging hyacinths. I’m also going to diaraise buying nematodes at the end of February.

I’m also going to stock up on compost and seed compost as I never have enough. I’d love to be able to make my own like Monty, but I just can’t get the volume.

Rescue garden tools

I always have the best intentions, but spades and secateurs often get left out in the rain to be covered in rust.

Usually I’ve been interrupted mid task by a child realising they couldn’t make it all the way across the monkey bars.

I usually try to do a rescur job now and clean and try to restore as much as possible.

Check on overwintered seedlings

For me, its usually checking on forgotten about seedlings like Lathyrus odoratus – sweet peas. I’m always pleasantly surprised when they look resilient, if a little floppy.

Buy bare root

Buying bare root plants (without the soil and a pot) means you can grab a bargain. I’ve ordered some Dame Judi Dench, David Austin Roses and some geranium bare roots too!

Pruning the apples

Pruning helps regulate growth and maintain healthy plants so now is the time to reduce foliage on deciduous trees and encourage bushier growth on evergreens.

I’m also pruning the apple trees to a goblet shape and removing any dead, diseased and damaged branches.

Pruning the roses

I always get excited about pruning the roses, but often reduce the height rather than think about the structure. This year I’m making sure I’m cutting back to outward facing buds, and removing any straggly weak branches.

Remove frost casualties.

It was really cold in December down to -6 here in Northern Ireland and a few plants did not survive, including a trailing rosemary I had in a hanging basket which I was surprised by.

Take cuttings

My penstemon cuttings I’d just stuck into a pot with gritting compost and thriving though.

Plant fruit trees

Ok, I don’t have much room, except for on a patio where I already have a cherry tree growing.

But, I’m seriously considering whipping out a very diseased and poorly plum for a native apple like Kemp from County Armagh in Northern Ireland or Ecklinville Seedling which was discovered at Ecklinville, Portaferry, near Belfast in the 1800s.

Sow hardy annuals

Well I’ve already got my sweet peas on the go, and my calendulas and cornflowers seed packets are shifting closer and closer to the door I just need to brave the cold to find out where I put the seed trays.

Hardy annuals are flowers that live and die in one season will be able to tolerate some frost but need protection.

Cut back ferns & hellebores

I’m cutting back ferns too. Their dead foliage will be flopping all over the place now. Hellebores also benefit from removing older leaves to let the flowers have their moment too.

Feeding the soil

I’m also about to give the soil some food once it warms up a bit to add more nutrients. This will probably be a mix of organic fertiliser and some homemade compost. I’ve used chicken pellet manure in the past, but it stinks!

Feed the birds

I actually cut back a bit on feeding the birds as it was costing a fortune, and I also think they were eating the food more than they were the berries and natural food in the garden. I only supplemented when it got really cold. I’m going to up it again for nesting season though.

Pot audit

Ok, a pot and trough audit. I’ve got some very ropey looking pallet containers I’ve made that will definitely need replacing. Also a few pots that didn’t survive the frost and snow.

Book in for garden shows

This is not a necessary, but I’ve done it anyway because I love a bit of forward planning.

I’ve booked my tickets to see all the garden shows I can reach!

What do you have on your list for the garden this January?

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