If you always feel like you don’t have enough time for gardening, or just need some guidance on what to focus on each month, this is the series for you! Read on for tips and ideas on quick but effective gardening in January.
The start of a new year has worked it’s magic on my gardening enthusiasm, as it always does. I’ve replaced the frenzy of Christmas with a gentler form of excitement, and my mind is buzzing with ideas for the garden and allotment this spring and summer. We may be still in the depths of winter but I do love looking forward, don’t you?
My problem is getting beyond that looking forward. This is what normally happens in our house: every year I have a bundle of good gardening intentions in January. I spend a blissful afternoon making lists, drawing up plans and browsing plant websites. The kids have a great time planning their little plots and choosing seeds, and I persuade my husband to agree to the heavier manual labour tasks I’ve got on the list. Excitement and enthusiasm are plentiful. Then term-time kicks in again, and daily family life takes over without me noticing. All too soon it’s spring and I’ve missed my chance to get ahead of the game, yet again.
But not this year! I am determined, and quick gardening jobs are going to be my saviour.
What to do in the garden in January
January gardening is all about harnessing those good intentions, and setting the stage for the spring garden into the bargain. Here’s my January gardening to do list.
Deal with Christmas houseplants
I planted some miniature iris in autumn – find out how to do this by forcing bulbs indoors – in the hope that they would bloom in time for Christmas. And they did!
The first flower opened on Christmas Day, and some of them were still going strong into the first week of January. They were perfect little shots of colour on my kitchen windowsill, and an absolute joy. By now though, they and the Christmas hyacinths have definitely had their moment in the spotlight.
This doesn’t mean you simply throw away the bulbs though. Keep the soil just damp and let the foliage die back; you can put the pots somewhere out of the way while this is happening if you don’t want a less-than-lovely plant on display. Once the foliage has died back, remove the bulbs from the soil and plant them out into the garden in spring (my post on how to plant bulbs has a step-by-step guide). With a bit of luck they’ll flower in springtime from next year. Just remember to make a note of where you planted them!
Quick garden tidy up
I always aim to give the garden a good tidy-up at the end of autumn. More often than not this is a gardening job that doesn’t get finished. Family life in the run-up to Christmas and the weather tempting me to stay indoors are both to blame, as is a bit of laziness if I’m honest!
If this sounds familiar, then now is a great time to get outside and spruce things up a bit. I’m not talking about anything too arduous; just focus on removing any decaying growth on plants, and clearing fallen leaves off the lawn. You can also remove any dead flowers from winter-flowering plants such as pansies. As well as making the garden look neater, this will help to reduce pest and soil problems.
Most plants will have died back at this time of year, so having a tidy up in January is also a great way to identify areas of the garden that would benefit from a rethink, or even some lovely new plants.
Sow some seeds
When it comes to quick gardening in January, nothing cheers me up more on a dreary winter day than sowing some seeds and letting my mind wander to warmer weather, new life and fabulous scents.
Sowing seeds with the kids is a great way to get them involved in the garden too. Let them choose which seeds to grow, and use it as a chance to explain a bit about germination and what plants need in order to grow. My top seeds to sow now are sweet peas or winter salad; have a look at my posts on seeds to sow in winter with children and how to grow salad for more information on planting these.
If you’d like to add to your January garden to do list, you could also check out my post on What to Plant in January for more flowers, bulbs and vegetables you can grow this month.
Help your garden wildlife
Not strictly a gardening job, but still very much worth doing. Winter is the toughest season for garden wildlife, so taking a few minutes to provide a source of food and water for wild birds and small mammals is a great way to support your local species. I have a whole post on winter wildlife gardening that has lots of other ideas too.
What’s on your list for quick gardening in January?