Gardening columnist Gareth Austin shares some of the gardening jobs you can do in January to prepare for spring.
It’s great to be back here on Donegal Daily after the winter break… but all I can say is roll on February!
February is when the garden starts to come to life, when flowers start appearing, growth starts to show and the days start to get noticeably longer than January, and February is historically a drier month, typically 30% less rain than January.
However, if we did go out and start digging in the garden you would see fresh root growth on garden plants, and flowering bulbs such as Daffodils and the likes are well through the soil at this stage.
This past week in the garden here has been a mix of running in and out to fill the log basket and also catching the odd glimpse of a flower or two, the first of the Snowdrops, the flowering witch hazel, early Primroses and the odd Helebore.
Time spent in the garden is few and far between in January, there is little to be done if truth be told and even fewer opportunities with the weather to get things done. As the weather improves coming through February we can grab the odd day here or there to cut back last years Strawberries, spread a bit of lime on the lawn, feed the apple trees or spread some compost around the roses.
What I’m saying is that in no time we’ll be right back at it, so time taken at this time of year to do some of the more tedious jobs is time well spent.
These are some of the jobs I get done at this time of year:
Cleaning Polytunnels and Glasshouses. Largely these are empty, so now’s a great time to get the steam washer/hose in and give them a good washing and then a good bleaching out. Both inside and outside. This removes overwintering pests and diseases for between pains of glass, around benches and a job like this gives you a feeling of optimism for the upcoming growing season.
Washing seed trays and pots. Next month we’ll start sowing seeds so take this time now to wash and sterilise all the trays and pots you’ll use this coming year. I give all mine a blast with the power washer first to dislodge most of the muck and then give them a good clean in some warm bleachy water. This rids any of the trays of diseases which can be devastate young seedlings, such as Damping-Off disease.
Order seeds. Many of the seed houses have early-bird offers running at this time of year, so plan your ornamental and kitchen gardens now and take stock of what seeds you have left from last year, and then order seeds required for this coming year. I generally operate a rule if the seeds are 2+ years old I discard them.
Keep that wood ash from the fire. If you’ve a wood burning stove you should be utilising the ash in the garden to improve flowering and performance of many of your garden plants. Just spread the ash around the garden and you’ll reap rewards come Spring and Summer, especially on roses and fruit trees.
Lawnmower servicing. The vast majority of gardeners in Donegal have a petrol lawnmower, and a good majority of owners never get them serviced never mind getting the blade sharpened. However getting the thing serviced will make it run better, giving better fuel economy, and a sharp blade will cut the grass cleaner and quicker. So take the time now to get yours serviced before the big rush starts!
Feed the garden birds. Whatever method you like, whether it’s mixed seed in a feeder, fat balls, peanuts, a bird table or hanging from the clothes line. A regular supply of something will bring a buzz and an energy to a cold back garden.Tags: