WHAT SHOULD YOU BE DOING WITH YOU GARDEN IN EARLY JANUARY
  • Carrots and parsnips that are still in the ground will remain there perfectly happy for another month.  Just make sure that the crowns are covered by 2-3 inches of soil
  • Check crops that are in store and discard any that are showing signs of rot.
  • Clear away dead foliage from perennials, this can be added to the compost heap.  Is important when removing the dead foliage not to cut it back too far as to do so will expose the new, emerging shoots to wind and frost
  • In the case of some plants, the dead foliage is used to protect the crown from winter damage.  Gunnera is an example, the large leaves are just bent back over the crown and secured with some soil or stones.  Sedums are best left unpruned as are ferns
  • The very mild weather has resulted in the growth of some perennial plants such as lupins, I’ve seen damage in my own garden from slugs so take appropriate action

Reasons for Getting out & Doing it in January! 

No 1, It’s the best time and No 2, you won’t be playing catch up in February when there’s so much to be done and every year by the end of February when I don’t have time I lament not doing more gardening in January.  I don’t know why but I find it hard to get stuck in, in January but this is what you can be doing now. Wisteria will flower better in spring if it gets its winter pruning now, to get the best from wisteria you have to prune it twice in the year.  First in July, the new season’s growth is shortened back to 5 buds and this is further reduced in January to 3 buds, usually not more than 6-9 inches in length of the current season growth.  By doing this the plant will put all its energies into the reduced amount of buds with longer and bigger blooms for you to enjoy in spring. 

Trim back vines grown indoors now.  Now is the best time to prune apple trees, this mystifies most people but if you keep in mind the following principles, it should simplify the operation.  No 1, pruning is carried out to reduce the size so therefore any branches that are growing way too high are removed.  For fruit to ripen and to reduce disease apple trees should have an open airy central structure, what I mean is a bush with no branches in the middle.  Try and encourage this from an early age, to achieve this on an old neglected tree can be quite difficult and should be done over a number of years.  If you do it in one fell swoop you throw the whole tree out of kilter and it will produce an abundance of soft new branches; as I said do it gradually by taking out a small number of mature branches every year.  Also, branches that are crossing or rubbing off one another should be removed as the damaged tissue resulting from this can cause canker and canker should be removed yearly.  Do not leave these affected branches on the ground beside the tree. 

When pruning, try to cut just above outward facing buds, this will result in new growth growing outward thus creating the desired shape.  Always use a very sharp secateurs when pruning, you need a clean cut rather than a crushed stem, no painting is necessary with pruning-compound.  Trees will recover from pruning naturally.  A winter wash, now with Armillatox will reduce insect populations next season and help to control the spread of canker.  I will be giving a talk and demonstration on all aspects of pruning in early February.  I will let you know the exact date later.  Pruning apple trees is one of the jobs I enjoy on a sunny winters day probably because I am envisaging the fruits of my labour

January