Jobs to do in January

Prepare for a new growing year

Top tips

Now's a great time to prune currants and gooseberries - especially new bushes or cordons.

Planting trees

Sowing and planting

Fruit

  • Plant bare-root trees and bushes, as long as the soil isn't frozen.

Vegetables

  • Sow broad beans in pots in mild areas, placing them in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.

  • Sow seed indoors for early crops eg: lettuces, summer brassicas (e.g. cabbages and cauliflowers), spinach, salad onions and turnips.

  • Sow onion seed in a heated propagator.

     

Pruning and training

Fruit

  • Prune apples, pears, quinces and medlars.

  • Prune currants and gooseberries.

  • Prune autumn raspberries.

     

Problems

  • Place mice controls near stored vegetables.

  • Protect early seed sowings from slugs.

  • Protect brassicas from pigeons.

  • Look out for grey mould and brassica downy mildew on brassicas.

  • Remove all remaining plant debris from the vegetable plot. Do not compost any diseased material such as blight-infected potatoes, onions suffering from white rot and any crops with rust. Burn or bin the diseased material.

  • Spray against peach leaf curl.

  • Check apples for canker and prune out.

     

General care

Fruit

  • Keep checking stored fruits and remove rotten ones.

  • Ensure tree stakes and ties are firm and sound.

  • Harvest citrus fruits once mature.

  • Lower indoor grapevine stems for even bud-break.

  • Apply winter washes to fruit trees and bushes.

  • Apply a top dressing of sulphate of potash to all fruits and nuts.
     

Vegetables

  • Stake or earth up Brussels sprouts stalks that look leggy and vulnerable to wind rock. Pick the biggest sprouts from low down the stalks first.

  • Force chicory to produce plump leafy heads.

  • Cultivate and prepare seed beds covering them with clear polythene, cloches or fleece to warm up the soil before sowing.

  • If the weather is reliably dry and frosty, leave heavy soils exposed - the frosts will kill pests and improve soil structure by the continual freezing and thawing of soil water.

  • Improve drainage of heavy soils by working in lots of organic matter. Grit will only be effective when used in conjunction with organic matter.

  • When gardening on wet soils work from a plank of wood, rather than treading on the bed, to avoid compacting the soil.

  • Save egg boxes as they will come in handy for potato chitting next month. Source your seed potatoes if you have not already done so.

  • Plan a rotation system for vegetable plots to ensure the same crops are not grown in the same beds year after year to help prevent disease build-up.

Ready to harvest

Vegetables
  •     Sprouting broccoli

  •     Brussels sprouts

  •     Jerusalem artichokes

  •     Leeks

  •     Parsnips

  •     Swede

  •     Celeriac

  •     Turnips

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