What to do in the Garden this month

With David Williams

I always look at January as the official start of the gardening season, writes David Williams. It is a time to start planning your year ahead, what you are going to grow and where you are going to grow it. But as it is so cold and wet outside, it is the perfect time to sit next to a roaring fire with a pile of seed catalogues seeing what’s new to grow this year. I have a few favourites that I want to grow this year.

Sweet pea show bench  mix

Ever fancied winning your local village show with sweet peas with this new mix of large flowered Spencer type flowers you will be in with a chance of getting that red card.

Cosmos xanthos

This is the world’s first yellow cosmos covered in masses of soft yellow flowers from July to  October and it grows up to 60cm tall. This would be a great one to grow for cut flowers and is one to find space for in your flower borders.

Phlox cherry caramel

This is a lovely new variety that has caramel flowers with cherry coloured centres. It grows 25cm tall and can be sown direct in the border.

There are lots of gardening events taking place around the country in January to get you out of the house. If you love potatoes then you will want to visit a potato day, www.potatoday.org/potatodays.htm. They are a great way to find a new variety of potato that you have never seen before. Some potato days can have up to 150 varieties for you to buy in every colour you could imagine. But these event are not just about potatoes they generally have lots of other stalls selling tools and garden related goods most also have a seed swap.  Seed swaps have become very popular recently. Many take place around the country so do look out for one near you they are well worth a visit.

If you love chillies and peppers then now is the time to get sowing them. If you have not got a heated greenhouse then a warm window sill will do just as well. Fill a small pot with good compost evenly space your seeds out on the top of the compost then cover with a thin layer of compost. Water and place a piece of glass or plastic on top of the pot. They can be slow to germinate but should start seeing the signs by the end of the month. When large enough prick out into small individual pots and grow on.

If you are after an instant crop of salad at this time of year then why not try growing micro veg? These are basically seedlings that are ready to eat in 7 – 14 days from sowing indoors. Most seed company’s sell a selection including red cabbage, broccoli, rocket, basil and the old favourite mustard and cress. Just simply sow them on about a cm of compost, water and they will just grow away, they are one to try with the kids. But the one I am looking forward to growing this year is the new sweetcorn ‘Bodacious’ they are really sweet. Sow them as you would other micro veg but you have to grow them in the dark.