You Really Do Get What You Pay For!
Often the wet and cold winter weather of January will put our gardening jobs on hold for a while. By February high pressure should herald less rain and even if cold the bright sunny days will finally encourage us to get some early gardening jobs done.
In the herbaceous border it is time to tidy up last years flowering stems of Rudbeckias, Campanula, Astilbe, Alstromerias and other late flowering perennials. Cut them back to ground level and compost the stems. The early shoots of Delphiniums will start to show and must be protected from slugs with ferrous sulphate slug pellets. Replenish every month to keep any slug problems to a minimum. There’s still time to split and divide herbaceous plants that have become congested. Some need to be split every 5 years. You can replant back into their original place with garden compost or soil improver added. These plants will quickly establish and you will have more to plant in other areas or give them away to gardening friends.
Adding new plants to your herbaceous border can start if the soil is not frozen. Plants that can be planted now include Bearded Irises, Wild Primrose, Scented Violas, Cowslips, Oriental Poppies, Lupins, Foxgloves and Hollyhocks. Everlasting Wallflowers are a great addition for any sunny border. They flower continuously from April to September with compact upright growth to 90cm x 90cm.
Helleborus Orientalis are flowering profusely now and range in colour from white, yellow, pinks, reds to even deep purple. If you have not already trimmed away last years old leaves do so now as the new leaves will soon appear. Trim off any spent flowers to keep the plants looking fresh and stop seedlings germinating.
The cheapest way to buy herbaceous plants and start your collection is in 9cm or 1 litre pots at this time of year. These are grown from seed or cuttings. The more specialised varieties are available later in the season as much larger plants. The price reflects the selective plant breeding.
An example is ‘West Country Series Lupins’. These were a reselected strain of the original ‘Russell Lupins’ created over many years of selective breeding. The growth is vigorous, virus free and available in 15 different colours. To keep this strain pure it needs to be propagated in the laboratory and so the plants are subsequently more expensive. It is a perfect example of “Getting What You Pay For”
Last month we talked about sowing early Onions, Peppers and Sweet Chillies. These should now be moved on into small cell or 5cm pots containing a peat free compost like John Innes No. 2. Keep the plants growing in a temp of approximately 15°C for the Peppers and Onions and about 12°C for Leeks.
When you buy Dahlia tubers or Begonia corms this month pot them in 13cm pots using Jacks Magic Compost with half the tuber showing above the ground. Keep them on a warm light windowsill until shoots appear from the stem area. Once they have grown to about 6 to 8 cm cut off at the base with a very sharp knife and put in fresh compost in 9 cm pots to root which should take 2 to 3 weeks. This way you can have 1 or 2 tubers but get more plants from the cuttings. Very cost effective in these turbulent economic times.
Sow Broad Beans in an unheated greenhouse or conservatory to be planted in the Veg Patch in early March.
Finally make sure the borders are really tidy before the busy time of Spring season starts. Rake up any leaves and winter debris and spread any rotted compost or manure on the borders. Finish digging your borders with a fork as the soil dries out and clean and sharpen your tools.Next month I will be writing about new plants, forgotten plants and plants that are low maintenance.
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.