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Garden jobs in January, a late in the month list.

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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:53 pm    Post subject: Garden jobs in January, a late in the month list. Reply with quote

Garden jobs in January, a late in the month list.
by GPI

There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalogues.
~Hal Borland, American author.

January can be a tough month for the restless gardener, being too late to sow spring bulbs and too early to sow the vegetable garden. Weather conditions can at times contribute to this stir-craziness, unhelpful days of drenched soil only punctuated by hard as a brick frozen ground. Have a scout around though, and will find plenty of tasks to busy yourself with, some preparation maybe or perhaps a touch of planting.

Conifers are better left until March for planting, photo / picture / image.

January is an ideal month to plant shrubs and trees within your garden. Whether you are planting a new bed from scratch or just popping in a plant or two to fill gaps, you should strike now before spring sap starts to rise. In this way new plantings will have settled in nicely before summer.

Two points to note however; firstly, root-balled or bare-root broadleaf evergreens and conifers are better left until March for planting. Otherwise they are liable to be damaged by cold drying winter winds before that.

Secondly, for January planting think summer. Have it in your head that any planting area with plenty of light today may see very little in summer. This is commonly due to trees in full leaf cutting out light to any under-plantings. So before planting, look up, take stock and when required plant shade lovers.

Your vegetable garden can get off to a head start if you give the warming process of your soil a helping hand right now. Do this by covering any future veg growing areas with a clear plastic cover or transparent film. Sunlight through this cover will heat up the top 6 inches of soil and prevent it from becoming sodden if you happen to receive any deluges.

Are you intending to grow any legumes or brassicas this year?
Legumes are basically your peas and beans, and the brassica group contains cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli, radish, swedes and turnips. If your veg growing soil is not noted for being limey (neutral to acid instead) then now would be a good time to add approx 250g of ground lime per metre squared wherever these vegetables are to be grown.

It still being only January there are one or two things you should be a bit careful of as you go about your garden duties. Take something as simple as watering your indoor houseplants for instance. Water for these plants should be left to sit for about a day in a warm kitchen to allow it reach "room temperature". I reckon a cold shower can be just as shocking to houseplants as it can be to myself, so avoid this if you can.

For those of you with spring bulbs sown, be careful you don't walk on the newly emerged foliage as you work around your beds and borders. Once light starts to fade, head indoors and sit by the fire instead rather than leaving yourself open to accidentally treading on these new arrivals.

Finally, remember that lawns can be quite wet at this time of year and you will do them no favours by walking across them in this state. To do so would result in compaction, where soil particles are packed so tightly that it is virtually impossible for water to find its way down through the soils surface.

As well as leading to poor drainage compacting your lawn can encourage moss, creeping buttercup and other invaders. So if your lawn is squishy, stay off it. This downtime may be the best chance you get to flick through the seed catalogues and make selections for the new season.

Any queries or comments on Garden jobs in January, a late in the month list, please post below.

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