It seems conditions become less and less predictable and January can bring anything from frosts to snow, gale-force winds and heavy rain. Some forecasts tell us to brace ourselves for bitter Arctic winds and the worst winter for years.
Yet amid the doom and gloom it’s noticeable that in many parts a relatively mild December has seen plants and trees quite advanced in their budding so they could be telling us something. It’s best though to be prepared and check on ties, stakes and supports. If you put plug plants in a border for a display next year you can protect them with horticultural fleece, making sure it’s well staked.
Covering soil with fleece or cloches also helps with early seed sowing. The festive season passed, there’s a Christmas tree to recycle. Garden centres will do this for you or if you have a chipper shredder you can make your own mulch. Indoor bulbs that have finished flowering can be planted out. It’s handy to make a ‘contingency’ list of things you can do, whatever the weather.
- Check your power tools, the garden tractor and mower. Do they need servicing?
- Keep feeding and putting water out for the birds
- Plant new fruit bushes if the ground is not frozen
- Buy or order seed potatoes to chit (in egg boxes) and vegetable seeds in readiness for sowing
- Plant bare root roses, shrubs, hedging and trees
- Remove and burn dead leaves around roses to help prevent black spot
- Prepare the greenhouse for sowing and ventilate
- Prune apple and pear trees
- Begin forcing rhubarb
- For winter colour plant Prunus winter flowering cherries, dogwoods and witch hazels