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What to think about

January Calendar (Courtesy of the ‘Sunday Gardener’)

Look After Birds

January is a another quiet month in the garden and time to look after the wildlife.  Birdbaths freeze over which deprive the birds of a much-needed source of water.

Plants with berries are important and by this time of year often the birds have all but eaten all the available berries which makes a regular top up of the bird feeders essential to the survival of as many birds as possible through the winter months.

Start Chitting Potatoes

January is a good time to buy seed potatoes and later in the month start Chitting the first earlies. This is particularly the case if you garden in a sheltered or milder area of the country and so can start planting earlier in the year. If your garden is cold, wet or exposed you may wish to move your calendar forward a few weeks.

The best way to start chitting potatoes is to place them on paper or in egg boxes in a cool place and leave for the shoots to appear. Given the varied nature of the summer it is worth looking at the blight resistant varieties of potato. Blight loves warm wet weather which is common in our summers.

Winter weeding

This time of year a good time to weed and continue the garden clear up ready for the spring.  So many plants have died back the ground is clear which makes it easier to see the perennial weeds and clear them out to start spring relatively weed free. At this time of year there are fewer worries about standing on tender shoots coming through as compared to weeding in the spring and on a mild day it's so good to get outside.

The frost loosens the soil the weeds give up more easily. On bad weather days, of which there are always plenty in January, its armchair gardening with the seed catalogues planning for the spring and deciding which new veg to try.

It is also a suitable time of year to cut back rugosa roses in a mild spell. Cut close to the ground and prune out any weak spindly stems.  The tops of Sedums can be cut off and you will see at the root the shoots of the new plants. Sedums are great garden plants with a long flowering season and very attractive to butterflies.

Keep a check in the greenhouse for mildew and grey mould

If you are over wintering plants in the greenhouse mildew and mould can be a problem. One way to try and prevent this occurring is to increase air flow. On mild days ventilate the greenhouse by opening all the doors and vents.  A good tip is to raise the pots off the ground to aid air flow and to reduce frost damage. As the image left shows this can be easily achieved simply by make a trestle using couple of bricks and a plank. Ahead of any disease pick of any leaves which are brown or dead. In the event of signs of disease on a plant and it is best moved out of the greenhouse to prevent spread.  This is the time of year when botrytis, grey mould, often strikes. There is little you can do to prevent it, but to stop it spreading remove the plant from the greenhouse/under glass and don't compost. It shows as soft grey mould and when you touch the plant the mould often showers off.

Happy Gardening

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