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A Whole New Gardening Year Begins

A Whole New Gardening Year Begins


It’s January and our Gardening Year begins again.

Here in the darkest winter days there’s a fresh enthusiasm and plans to be made for the garden in this whole new Gardening Year.

Venture to the Garden Centre and you will see some of the delights that could be colourful and exciting in your garden even in the middle of winter.  

The Christmas Rose, Mahonia, Winter Flowering Jasmine, Witchhazel, The Snowberry, Viburnum Tinus, Daphne Odora and The Shrubby Honeysuckle provide either flower, berries or scent to brighten the winter scene.  Cyclamen coum looks great under trees with Snowdrops and Aconites, Ferns and Heucheras.  Bare stems also come into their own at this time of year too with the yellow, red and orange bark of Cornus mingling with the classic white trunks of the Betulas, Silver Birches and the shiny mahogany bark of Prunus Serrula.

Seeds tubers and corms are ready to buy now including summer flowering Begonias, Dahlias and summer bulbs like Freesias and Lilies. Potato tubers are also available and should be laid in trays in a frost free place with the eyes facing upwards to chit.  Don’t forget to buy your onion and garlic sets early too as these always sell out by February.

As the days lengthen start making the first seed sowings of the year.

If you are a Veggie Grower Onions, Leeks, Sweet and Chilli Peppers should be sown now in heated propagators in a heated greenhouse, if you can afford it, or a spare warm room in the house. These all need long germinating and growing times to be ready to plant on the patch in April. Any heated propagators can be used most have a pre-set temperature of 65-70°F. To stop the seedlings bending towards the light source from a window, cover a sturdy sheet of cardboard with cooking foil and place it along the side of the propagator opposite the light source to deflect the light evenly over the germinating seedlings as they grow.

Sow Swiss chard under cover. You won’t regret it, once you get used to having this in your garden, you’ll wonder how you survived without it. You can use the stalks and the leaves for risotto, gratins, stir fries and soup. Sow Broad Beans, Carrots, Peas and Spinach under cover in a poly tunnel or cloches for very early crops.

Place netting over brassicas to protect them from pigeons.

Grow some radishes, parsley and coriander in gutter pipes in the greenhouse for really early pickings. Wash the parsley seeds in warm water the night before you want to sow them and then lay them to dry on kitchen paper overnight. This washes out the germinator inhibitor in the seed coat and will speed up germination.

Dig up and pot up roots of mint and chives from the herb patch to force early shoots.

Cover rhubarb plants with forcers as soon as they show signs of growth. This will encourage early and very tender stems.

Grape Vines should be pruned before the sap starts to rise. Vines can bleed profusely if you leave pruning too late and this will eventually weaken the plant. All new growth should be reduced back to one or two buds and tied in firmly. Also, using a blunt knife, scrape all the loose bark from the main vine stems and around the spurs. This gets rid of overwintering pests and allows new shoots to grow through more easily in the spring.

Continue planting fruit trees and winter pruning of apples and pears but only when there is no frost or snow forecast. Pruning varies according to the variety you are growing, but always start with the “Three D’s”. Remove all Dead, Diseased or Damaged wood.

Cut down canes of Autumn Fruiting Raspberries to soil level.

Bring potted Strawberries under cover for an earlier crop.

Established Black Currants should be pruned now. Remove one third of all stems over two years old at the base. Mature Red Currants can have their side shoots shortened to one bud, and the tip of the main branch pruned. Remove any congested growth from Goose Berries.

Plants that have been overwintered indoors like Cannas, Geraniums, Citrus, Fuchsias, and Pelargoniums should be checked occasionally for moisture levels and pests like aphids. Cannas should be dug up in November and potted into 10 inch diameter containers.  They need to be kept totally frost free so store where the temperature does not fall below 5 degrees. In February new shoots will emerge from the rhizomes as the days warm up.

Watch out for aphids and scale insects on your citrus plants. Citrus respond well to pruning which maintains the shape.

Depending on the weather outdoor work can be done on bright sunny days.  The Veg Plot will need digging with rotted compost added and new raised beds filled with a good mix of 6:1 topsoil and soil conditioner.  As long as the soil is not too wet or frozen, tree and shrub planting can continue before the warmer spring weather arrives.

And finally, many birds will still be hungry as there is little left now the berries and insects have gone so keep the bird tables full with Fat Balls, Sunflower Seed and Water. Remember to put a spoonful of sugar into the bird bath water to lower the freezing temperature.

We’ve made a start but there are another eleven glorious Gardening Months to come in 2024. Happy New Year Everyone from all of us at                                   

                                  MILTON ERNEST GARDEN CENTRE

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