Things to do in the garden now

January

There are quite a few things that you can do in January, weather permitting of course. It may seem cold, and drab, and lifeless, but this is the time to start laying the foundations for the year ahead. I love the cold but sunny days on the rare occasion we get them.

Wildlife

One thing that is really important is to feed the birds. I love watching the birds at the feeder, knowing they have had a decent feed today. It’s tough out there, give them a hand. You’ll reap the rewards in the summer, and they will pick off pesky insects that you don’t need in the garden.

Plants and bulbs

It’s not too late to plant some spring bulbs. Tulips will be happy being planted now. Daffodils may be a bit more reluctant to flower this year, but still worth giving it a go. Bulbs don’t like being out of the ground for too long so my advice is to get them in by the end of the month at the very latest. A few pots of spring flowers will brighten any space, no matter how small.

For instant impact, invest in some hardy pansies or violas, they flower through winter. They also have cheerful little faces. I like to have a couple of pots with these in, near the house. They cheer me up no end, and make the garden feel alive.

Vegetables

If you have some space to grow vegetables, and have never done it before, I highly recommend giving it a go. Some of the easiest vegetables to grow are peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, onions and lettuce. You can give peas an early start by covering the area where you want to plant them with some horticultural fleece, or even black bin liners, to warm the soil. Do this for a couple of weeks and then you can sow the seeds directly where they will grow. They may be slow to start but they are vigorous!

You could even grow them in pots, for example a pot that you see at the supermarket that flowers are displayed in. These are often just thrown away. Just ask if you can have some for free, you never know. Punch some holes in the bottom for drainage, fill with multipurpose compost and leave in a sunny spot in the garden, covered with fleece a bin bag. After a couple of weeks sow in the pot for a nice early crop. You will never believe just how good fresh picked peas taste!

It’s also a good time to start buying seed for anything else you want to grow. This is by far the cheapest way to grow your own, and I recommend only growing what you like to eat, starting with some easy vegetables like those mentioned before. There are plenty more easy vegetables but the ones I mentioned are probably the best ones for a novice.

What else am I doing in January?

I am keeping an eye on the weather. This year it has been very mild, and if we do have a very cold snap I may give the onions and garlic a little protection.

I planted these in a raised bed in October, to give me a nice early crop. I can then use the space for a second crop of fast growing vegetables like peas, or beans. Although they are hardy, I wouldn’t want to lose them if we have a “Beast from the East” again.

I will be topping up my remaining three raised beds and covering them to warm the soil a little. February to April are generally the busiest months for sowing, so I want to be ready.

I will also resist looking at any more seed catalogues, I have more than 100 packets, and think that is plenty for now!

What will you be doing in January in the garden, tell me!