The beautiful village of Tattenhall in Cheshire
Webteam: January 2020
January is not an easy month to love. Christmas is over, the days are short, the nights long and the weather can be pretty grim. So, we have a choice. We can be grumpy and hide under the duvet or we can wrap up warm and get outdoors. Snowdrops are in flower this month. Fragrant plants like winter flowering honeysuckle and sarcocca scent the air. Cyclamen coum is trying to flower, I saw the first daffodils and primroses on a trip to South Devon, the first week of January. and the days are getting longer. My seed order has arrived so it is time to sort those out and make a plan of where I will plant them, and when I need to start to sow, not too early but not too late.
Climate change means people are expecting more innovation and higher sustainability standards. Undisturbed, peat bogs absorb and store a huge amount of carbon. It's also a rich and vital habitat for plants. But peat bog mass is being extracted 60 times faster than it lays down... which is clearly unsustainable, so try and buy good quality peat free compost, and look for alternatives for acid loving plants. The garden industry is now gearing up to do this, and needs to be encouraged by gardeners asking for products that are sustainable.
There are always jobs to do in the garden, and they use as much energy as a session in the gym!
Raking fallen leaves and weeds for 30 minutes or digging the veg plot requires as much energy as going for a 2km run. Even pruning and tidying plants are as good for you as walking. Three hours of gardening is as effective as one hour's intensive work out in the gym.
- Chillies are slow to germinate and need a long growing period so it's a good idea to sow a batch in January. They can take 2-3 weeks to germinate and another 3-4 before being large enough to prick out.
- Autumn planted onions will welcome a high potash feed this month.
- Hellebore flowers will be emerging cut away any large, old leaves.
- To produce the tender sweet shoots of forced rhubarb now is the time to cover the crown. If you don't have one of those splendid terracotta forcing pots then no matter, a large upturned bucket will do the job.
- Continue planting bare-root trees and shrubs. If the ground is frozen then heel them in or plant temporarily in a pot until the ground thaws. Once planted, remember to water often.
- Tidy up the shed, sweep shelves and wash pots and seed trays. It'll be time for spring sowing before you know it!
- The old head gardener from Wollerton Old Hall gave me this advice: To prevent disease and black spot, remove all fallen leaves from beneath roses.
- Prune apple and pear trees, removing any criss-cross branches and dead wood.
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