January is not just the start of a new year, but for the keen gardeners amongst us it is also the start of a new gardening season.
Even though the temperatures are cold enough to make a polar bear think about putting a coat on, there is still lots to be getting on with in the garden.
There are lots of pruning jobs to be doing over the next month or two before the sap starts to rise and the buds start to break.
Just be careful what plants you are pruning as you could easily start cutting off this year’s flowering wood – some plants flower on new growth and others flower on last year’s growth. So do find out what you are cutting before you ‘go in’ with the secateurs. This could make the difference between a good show of flowers and no flowers at all.
Prune your apple and pear trees. This will let more light onto your tree and increase the fruiting buds.
Another good job to do in the fruit garden is to give all your fruit trees and bushes a good mulch of well rotted manure or good garden compost. This will add nutrients to the soil, act as a weed suppressor and retain moisture in dry, summer months. Do make sure however, that there is no frost in the soil when you mulch otherwise it will become trapped inside and take longer for the soil to warm up in spring.
If you are looking to plant any shrubs, trees or roses this year, now is a great time to order and plant bare root plants. Not only will they grow more quickly than pot grown plants, but they are much more likely to grow into bigger plants. Also they are over half the price of a pot grown plant. When you take delivery of your plants it is a good idea to soak them in a bucket of water for an hour or so as they will probably have dried out during delivery.
Soil preparation is important. Dig out a good sized hole, large enough to comfortably fit all the roots within. Incorporate lots of garden compost or well-rotted manure into the soil you have removed from the hole. Dust the roots in mycorrhizal fungi as this will greatly increase the root growth of the plant. Back fill with the soil and compost mix making sure you get all the soil between the roots by shaking the plant. Be careful not to bury the plant too deep, firm the plant in with heal of your boot and give it a good watering in.
Seed sowing season is nearly upon us too, so it is good to get your seed box out to see what seeds you have and check that they are still in date. Then work out what you want to grow this year and make a list, ticking off all the seeds you already have, then get out all of your seed catalogues and get ordering. You will always have lots of spare seed packets and lots of seeds that you have saved from your own plants left so why not take them along to your local seed swap? There are lots going on around the country so why not look on line to find out where the nearest one is to you.