A lot of people think it’s the calm before the storm but as the old adage says, failure to prepare is preparing to fail. The list of things to do in the garden in January is longer than you think!
In the UK, it’s often wet, cold and miserable after Christmas. However, there’s still plenty to do to get your garden in tip-top shape ready for spring. From dealing with the soil, pruning, ordering seeds and bulbs, and general garden maintenance, there are lots of gardening jobs for January to be getting on with.
Let’s run down the most important jobs for the garden in January.
General Garden Maintenance
Some of the most important gardening jobs to do in January don’t involve any gardening at all.
Bird Feeders & Bat Boxes
Ensure that your bird feeders are regularly topped up with nuts, seeds and fat balls. This is one of the most important January garden tasks, as it’s the time of year where garden wildlife needs the most help. They also need a good supply of water so keep the bird baths full and melt ice with warm water on especially cold days. Bat boxes are designed to offer a safe environment for females to raise their young and they will also help to protect your garden from unwanted pests including moths, beetles and mosquitoes.
Cleaning certainly isn’t a favourite of the January garden tasks but it is one of the most vital things to do in the garden in January. It covers a lot of bases, from ensuring your beds are free of debris and jet-washing decking, paths and patios to removing algae and moss, skimming ponds to remove dead leaves and clearing out your gutters so the winter rain and melting snow can fill up your water butts. Don’t forget to tidy your shed and clean your empty plant pots. You never know what has been calling them home over the winter months
A bad gardener always blames their tools, and of all the gardening jobs to do in January, ensuring your tools are in perfect working order will give you a great head start as you go into spring. You can clean and sharpen your garden tools and add a splash of oil to shears and secateurs and other tools with moving parts. It’s also an option to have your lawnmower serviced or reconditioned if required.
Soil & Plants
Making sure that your soil is prepared and your plants are well maintained is one of the jobs for the garden in January that no gardener should skip.
Where your plants are concerned, the soil does most of the heavy lifting so it’s important to make sure it’s ready for whatever you’re going to ask it to do. You can protect the soil from the harsh winter weather by covering it over with autumn leaves and make sure you remove all the weeds before you start planting. If the soil is workable you can turn it over and to get a real head start, cover it with plastic sheeting in the weeks before planting which will warm it up and dry it out.
There are a few flowers that start to grow in January and while your flower beds may look bare, there is a hive of activity going on under the surface. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can plant things like ornamental trees and shrubs and, as the snowdrops arrive, you can split them and establish new colonies elsewhere in your garden. One of the most interesting and fun of your January garden tasks is to plan where you’re going to plant your spring flowers. It’s good to have an idea of where everything is going to go so you’re not left scratching your head when it’s time to plant.
Fruits & Vegetables
One of your first post-Christmas tasks is to prune your fruit trees to remove dead or diseased branches. This will encourage a healthy yield and early growth. If you grow vegetables, gardening jobs for January don’t get tougher than working the soil. It’s time to get the compost and manure into the ground ready for – hopefully – a bumper crop. Less back breaking work is planning this season’s crop rotation. This basically means that you grow your crops in different beds to years past. Another of the things to do in the garden in January is to order your seeds for planting in spring.
In The Greenhouse
If you have a greenhouse, you won’t be stuck for gardening jobs to do in January. It’s great to start the new year with a spotless greenhouse so give it a clean, replace any broken glass panels and cracked pots and give it a thorough sweep to get rid of any undesirable pests.
For the serious gardener, you can install a thermostatically-controlled fan heater to keep the greenhouse free of frost and on rare winter sunny days, keep the greenhouse well ventilated to stop a humid environment.
Good luck and here’s to a great season!