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Each month, receive tips on the top jobs needed in your garden as well as a wealth of information on a range of gardening topics. From sowing seeds to picking fruit, each month get access to information on the care and maintenance of your flowerbeds, vegetable plot and lawn. As with your own gardening diary, the journal is split into separate sections, each covering a different area of garden care.

Monday 6 January 2014

This Month in your Garden – January

A new year begins in the garden. How did you fare over the past twelve months with the vagaries of the weather?

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.

Lawn Care Guide – January

Simple steps to super lawns

If there is a mild spell in January you can lay new turf and make repairs to lawn edges. Consider laying stepping stones across areas that have suffered from constant wear, with walking to the shed or greenhouse for example.

Water logging can be alleviated by spiking and aerating, either using your garden tractor accessories for large areas or a garden fork. Fill holes with a sharp sand and loam mixture, brushing this in and clearing any worm casts at the same time. Remove mole hills – the soil can go on the compost heap.

Q. We have a lot of brown patches on the lawn which started after snow cleared and we had a mild spell. The grass went yellow at first then seemed to die back to brown. What can we do?

The Vegetable Plot – January

Three stage January planting

Early January and you can grow shorthorn carrots in a frame with thermostatically controlled soil warming cables. Seeds planted directly into the soil in the frame will give a supply of tender young roots in early spring.

Onion seed sown in John Innes seed compost in seed trays placed in a heated greenhouse with an average temperature of 13ºC (55ºF) will provide seedlings for transfer to open ground in spring. Early peaches can be grown in the same conditions.

Power Tool Tip for January

The right tools for the job

Winter pruning is made a lot easier with the right power tools.

Never work with a chainsaw above shoulder height and always make sure you are wearing the right protective clothing. Cutting logs and pruning is a good winter warmer. When you’re fuelling up remember as well you need chainsaw oil for lubricating the chain.

A pole pruner, effectively a chainsaw on a pole, is ideal for cutting those hard to reach branches and removing over crowded tree limbs. Weather permitting, if there are still leaves on the lawn and you have a garden tractor with a brush sweeper/collector you can clean up, depositing the leaves on the compost.

A chipper shredder can be run off the Power Take Off for reducing prunings to mulch. Then it’s a good time to have the tractor serviced ready for the first cut in the spring. If there are still large areas of fallen leaves that didn’t get cleared up before Christmas a power blower or a blower/vac will be indispensable.      

The Big Glut Recipe – January

Parsnip and tomato soup

January’s warming parsnip and tomato soup is for six people.


  • 25g/1oz butter
  • 2 medium onions peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500g/1lb parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp thyme, freshly chopped
  • 900ml/1½ pints chicken stock
  • 150ml/5floz milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g/14oz can tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper