Tag Archives: heated propagator

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.

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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!

january_snow_garden

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!

The Allotment in December – what’s happenin?

frozen_allotmentIt’s a bit grim up north

Last week we had freezing rain and a day that never seemed to get light, 9am seemed more like midnight, it was dreary. During this spell I visited the allotment before work to check that I’d properly fleeced everything in the greenhouse.

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It was foggy on the plot and as I looked around all I saw was mess and all the jobs that need doing. I also saw that the frost was killing off my flowers, which have been very confused until now. I love frosty mornings but I must admit that morning was quite grim!
allotment_december_thawedIt’s still a bit grim up north

Only a few days later and the big freeze has gone! Today was much milder and it seems strange to think that we’re only a week away from Christmas. I wanted to take these photos of the allotment so I can start recording it through the months ahead. So much of it is really untidy and I have a lot of general chores to do. To be perfectly honest, I could be growing more but I prefer to grow just enough and then clear out the veg beds over winter and concentrate on bulbs and planning for the following year. Today I noticed a lot of rotting vegetables in the other plots and I’m glad I’m not in that position. However, I really do wish that I’d grown kale and I wish I still had leeks and broccoli left but I’ve eaten it, leaving me with only three sprout plants, just enough for Christmas dinner!

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Rather embarrassingly untidy plot

my_sproutsThese are up next for the chop

I aim to start January with a bang and aside from sowing leeks for the giant leek competition I’ve got involved in, I will also start sowing peppers. The best peppers I had this year were ones that fellow allotmenteer Michaela gave me. I know she starts sowing them early at home and I think that’s why she is such a rock star at growing veg. She doesn’t wait until the spring, she gets a good head start. I’ll definitely have my leeks in a heated propagator to get them going for the competition. If you have any tips for growing ‘mammoths’ I would be most grateful. I usually grow them close together to keep them small so this is going to be a real challenge!

What do you do this time of year and what are your thoughts on starting off seeds at home before the spring?

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