Month by month – gardening in January

berries_in_snowMy friends and colleagues are always asking me what they should/could be doing each month and January has been no exception. I feel slightly uncomfortable starting this new series since there’s a ton of books out there that give wonderful month by month guides to gardening and there’s some great websites too, including Gardeners World and the RHS and of course plenty of other blogs written by passionate gardeners who have brilliant advice. Please feel free to add your own tips, ideas and advice and hopefully all our friends and colleagues will benefit!

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1. When it’s cold outside and you want to be indoors check out seed catalogues and read books! Now is a good time to start thinking about what you will grow, going through your seed collection and starting to plan your garden. I’ve organised my seeds in zip lock bags, sorted by each month.


2. Sow indoors. Not everyone has a greenhouse and not everyone can heat their greenhouse so start sowing on your windowsill. January can be really poor for light so if you really don’t have a bright or sunny spot then you don’t have to do this, most folk start in March. I’m a massive fan of starting my seeds indoors though and some things you can try are:

  • Early tomatoes such as Mr. Fothergills Red Cherry. If you have a heated propagator set them off in there now and when they start coming through we should have better light conditions. Be warned, they can be leggy if sown now though but tomatoes are very robust. If you are raring to go, then try it, better still wait until February or March. I will be sowing some end of Jan/start of Feb because I want some early varieties.
  • Autumn Leeks like the Mammoth Variety I’m growing right now.
  • Broadbeans – again, start them indoors and you will have some really strong and healthy plants to plant out in March. They will start to grow big though so be prepared to pot them on. If you haven’t got the time or space then wait and sow them direct in March.
  • You can also check out what I’ve got ‘growing on‘.

3. You can plant garlic outside but only when the ground is frost free and not waterlogged. Digging frozen or wet ground can damage your soil structure. With this current cold snap it’s probably best to wait now until March unless you’re in a blessed part of the country or the world where mildness prevails!


4. Potter and clean things. On a crisp but frosty day take your flask of coffee (or if you’re like me your flask of Baileys Hot Chocolate or a nice tea) and potter around. Any bulbs you have in pots should be in cold frames or sheltered from bad weather, including rain, some bulbs don’t like to be waterlogged. Clean your greenhouse with hot soapy water – that’ll warm your hands! Fungus can grow in your greenhouse so it’s important to ventilate it in this weather too. Shake snow off branches and when everything is bare in the garden it’s a great time to tidy around and visualise where you will plant things and what changes you might make over the coming months.

5. Certain bits of pruning can be done now. I only know about Apples and Pairs but I never do them when it’s frosty, snowing or completely frozen like now as that can be harmful to them. So wait for the next mild spell and that would be a good time. I expect that rule applies to other trees and woody shrubs. Best to check that one!

6. Plant trees, hedging and roses. Never plant a rose where another one once was. It can lead to disease. Dogwood seems to be flavour of the month this year and it does look utterly brilliant. Again, avoid digging barerooted plants in when it’s really very cold weather. Wait for it to thaw out somewhat first. This is to protect the soil and give the plant a good start for it’s roots.

7. Feed the birds. They will be very grateful.

8. Plan your crop rotation. This is what I’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks.

9. Order your seed potatoes for chitting next month.

10. If all else fails and snow continues to fall, then go for a nice walk and take photos :)

rotten_snowy_cabbagesThis is why I don’t grow much over winter, rotten cabbages don’t look great even when covered in snow

Can you think of anything else? Please feel free to link up to your posts if you have any winter / January advice. Happy gardening!

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15 Responses to “Month by month – gardening in January”

  1. Ronnie@Hurtledto60 January 20, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    Great post, thanks. Loving the idea of Baileys hot chocolate!!

    • Anna B January 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      Thanks Ronnie! Haha, it’s absolutely delicious! :)

  2. Cathy January 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    Who are they, guarding your seeds on the windowsill? :)

    • Anna B January 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      Haha! Ah yes, those are the scary gnomes, trained to attack any beasties who try to eat my seeds ;)

  3. Sue@GLAllotments January 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    I have a School Vegetable Patch Website (Link from the sidebar of my blog) that has a month by month list of tasks

    • Anna B January 20, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      Brilliant! Thanks for adding your link Sue :)

  4. gardeninacity January 20, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Pruning, planning, ordering, reading … oh, and don;t forget shoveling!

    • Anna B January 20, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

      Haha! Or just hibernating :)

  5. Anna January 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Some good tips there Anna – thanks for sharing them. My tip is that is a good idea make sure you warm up properly before gardening at this time of year and not to get too carried away – says she speaking from bitter experience :)

    • Anna B January 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

      Brilliant advice! Thanks Anna :-)

  6. wellywoman January 22, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Loads of great tips Anna. I’m trying to be super organised this year and have checked to see what new gardening kit I’ll need. Rather than waiting till spring when I need the stuff I’ve ordered plant feeds such as seaweed meal and comfrey pellets. There’s so much to do once spring comes it’s good to have a look in the shed and see what you think you’ll need and get it now.

    • Anna B January 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      Brilliant ideas! The shops are stocking garden stuff now too, so a great time to order in or browse. Thanks for the tips Wellywoman! :)

    • Anna B January 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      P.s. seaweed and comfrey sounds great, I think I’ll look into ordering some of that myself! Will be a nice change from chicken poo.


  1. Getting organized | Words and Herbs - January 30, 2013

    [...] else seems to have ordered their seeds and started sorting through old seed packets. Anna at Dig the Outside has some seeds sown already. Sarah at The Garden Deli is in the middle of planning. Marie at My [...]


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