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Jobs for the month - January

The hours of daylight are increasing and it’s time to get outdoors and get some soil under your finger nails. And to get through January….

January is often the coldest month and although we might be in the middle of winter the days are starting to lengthen and our gardens are starting to grow. Now is a great time to plan for the coming gardening year and to order seeds and plants. Get out and enjoy the fresh air – particularly on dry sunny days, and check your winter protection, stakes, ties and supports are still working after any severe weather. Also put out food for birds and leave some garden areas uncut to provide shelter for wildlife in your garden.

Here’s our Top Ten Tips for the month:

1. Cover rhubarb plants with a bucket or terracotta pot to force an early crop of tender long stems.

If you've got a crown that might need dividing then now is a great time to gently dig it up and, using a sharp spade or knife, cut it into pieces. Give one to a neighbour and replant what's left. Then if you'd like some nice, early, tender stems cover one piece with a bucket or a pot and sit back and wait.....

2. Winter-prune apple and pear trees to remove any dead, damaged, congested and diseased branches.

Check whether your variety is a tip and spur bearer as they need to be pruned slightly differently and then, using a sharp pruning saw or loppers, carefully prune away. Open up the crown, give your tree a winter wash and then check your grease bands.

3. Sort out your seeds, throwing away empty or out-of-date packets and noting down any to buy for the coming season.

Seeds won’t last forever, and although it might seem waste to throw those old packets away, it’s best to make sure that your seeds are still in season. If they’re not then bite the bullet, get rid of them and buy some more.

4. Trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers that have outgrown their space, before birds start nesting.

Climbers can easily get out of control if they're not monitored and, where necessary, pruned regularly. If that's true of your climbers then now is the time to get the secateurs out – particularly before the blackbirds start building nests - and give them a prune.

5. Clean and sharpen your tools, including hoes, secateurs and shears, and spray metal tools with oil.

It's probably best to check your tools before you start to tackle any pruning - either of your fruit trees, your climbers or anything else that might need some attention. You can have a go at cleaning and sharpening your tools yourself - or send them away to get someone else to do it! Now though is the time to - at the very least - make sure they're all in good shape for the coming 12 months.

6. Give your lawn mower a basic service or take it to a dealer for maintenance, while it's not in use.

Similarly to the previous job now is a good time to get your mower - or any other kit - looked at and, where necessary, booked in for a service. That way when your grass is starting to grow in the spring you'll be ready to give it a mow - without having to pull that cord over and over again and wondering why your mower doesn't want to co-operate!

7. Take hardwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs, such as forsythia, willow and viburnum.

All you need to so is choose the strongest looking plant stems and carefully remove the soft tip growth. Then cut each piece into sections that are between 6 and 12 inches in length – cutting cleanly above a bud at the top and with a nice sloping cut to shed water. And then at the other end make a straight cut and then dip that into some hormone rooting powder. Fill some pots with free draining potting compost and then gently push your cutting into it – such that you have 2/3rds of the cutting beneath the surface. Put you pots somewhere warm and don’t let the compost dry out and after a few months – and if you’re lucky - then roots will have started to form and you’ll hopefully have free plants!

8. Prepare any vacant plots for the growing season that will soon be with us.

There are two schools of thought – dig them over or follow the no dig approach. Have a look at what we have to say about this here: To dig or not to dig...... (

9. Recycle your Christmas tree.

We mentioned this last year. This year though we put the Big Blue Landy and our Ifor Williams into action and collected and recycled trees ourselves. You can read about that here:

10. Plant a bare-root tree.

Whether you're planting an ornamental tree or a fruiting one now is a good time of year to do it. That’s because deciduous plants are dormant now and you can buy them bare root which is cheaper and you ought to get a far better choice when it comes to variety and root stock. Bare root is also better for the environment as it doesn't involve peat or plastic in their production. Many on line and mail-order nurseries specialise in selling trees, roses and hedging plants like this. When they arrive in the post, plant them as soon as you can.

You can contact us through our facebook page, at or on 07734 365028.

And don't forget that you can listen to us chat all things gardening on FromeFM. We're on every 4 weeks with our first show of the New Year going out 9th January.


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