We may have only just welcomed 2012 into lives but a gentle stroll will prove that spring is most definitely on the way. On close inspection of the garden, snowdrops have appeared and begun flowering, whereas the fragrant pink blossom is hanging daintily already from the cherry trees!
Of course this early show of spring has a mixed reaction with gardeners; some may enjoy a browse through the seed catalogues for a little longer, resting peacefully in front of a lovely log fire, whereas others will be eager to trek outside planning and clearing ready for the rush of the new season.
Preparation is Key!
January may be a quiet month in the life of the gardener, however there is still a lot of preparation work to do in order to secure beautiful blooms and a bumper harvest throughout the summer and autumn.
As we’ve been fortunate enough to so far be free of frosts, this year the ground can be dug over and homemade compost can be dug in. This time last year we had to shovel through a mountain of snow before we reached the icy soil beneath, however conditions have made our patches lovely and moist, perfect for preparation.
Investing in weed control fabric may be beneficial this year, as although our herbs and perennials have enjoyed the warmer climes, the weeds will not have missed the milder season either. If the weather continues to be frost free, we may find a mighty war against weeds on our hands as soon as they’re ready for battle.
Win the War against Weeds
Placing weed control fabric now will give a blank canvas on which you can plant plug plants or vegetables in between, creating a landscape that’s free of dandelions, nettles and bind weed. Pick a day with very little wind and secure with pegs, making sure those weeds never experience daylight at all.
Gardeners can also use their own methods of weed control, using empty feed bags or bin liners, cover the surface and pin down. Then spread wood chippings pebbles or homemade compost over the top to add that little extra weight.
Now is also the time to check on the tools that have been hibernating since November. Oil any squeaky parts and sharpen well to prepare them for the trimming and cutting that’s on the horizon.
Usually we’d wait a little longer to divide plants, however many can now be divided as long as frosts aren’t foreseen, as the parsley is still going strong, experiment with this first before moving onto others.
The greenhouse awaits the planting of many early fruit and vegetables, specific varieties of tomatoes can be planted under glass in January whereas outside the vegetable season is almost in full swing.
Feltham first peas and broad beans will thrive in these conditions, and planting now will ensure they don’t bolt if the threat of a tropical summer comes to fruition.
Inside too could do with a little care, the houseplants may need repotting or moving to a lighter location in order to wake them from their winter snooze. Buying plug plants will rejuvenate hanging baskets and pots too, with winter pansies being a national favourite in January.
Above all rest after all the hard work, as if the weather becomes any warmer, we green fingered people are going to be in for one busy spring and summer!