Calendar of Garden Work for January

These are reminders, based on experience of conditions in the middle of England during an average year, of the appropriate moments for the more important gardening tasks.

The dates given for these tasks should be amended by gardeners in different parts of the country. There is a three-week difference in the seasons between the cooler and warmer parts of Britain, while spring comes two days later and autumn two days earlier for every additional 100 ft. of altitude. Account should also be taken of climatic variations from year to year. Seasons may differ by up to three weeks in successive years, and in years of unusual weather spring can be as much as a month early or late.


JANUARY is the chief month for planning and for ordering seeds and plants. Now is the time to decide whether the varieties of flowers and vegetables that were grown last year were sufficiently successful and suitable to the garden to be reordered. Make this ordering the first task of the New Year.

The advisability of buying seeds from a reputable firm cannot be over-stressed.

Start a gardening diary this month. It can be a great help in future years.


Make root cuttings of such plants as anchusa, oriental poppy, phlox, gaillardia and perennial verbascum to provide plants to put out in spring. Cut up the roots into pieces about 2 in. long and put them into sand or fine soil according to the details given in Propagation.

The planting of trees and shrubs can continue if the weather is favourable, but be sure that the soil has been carefully prepared beforehand and that the young plants are staked firmly when planted.

Sonchus oleraceus English: Sow-thistle flower,...

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If heavy snow falls, clear it from the branches of trees, particularly evergreens, where the weight can cause the boughs to break.

If frost lifts newly planted shrubs or perennials, push them back with the heel, firming the soil down all round the plants.

Inspect tubers and corms in store to see that mice are not attacking them.

Remove and burn any that are decaying. Order new begonias, gloxinias, dahlias and gladioli.

If turves were not laid in the autumn, lay them now — but only, of course, when conditions are suitable.


If the vegetable garden was not dug in October or November, get as much digging done as possible, working in manure or compost where needed, and leave the ground in ridges.

Towards the end of the month cover with cloches ground ear-marked for February sowings so that it will have a chance to warm up.

Sow lettuce seed in a cold frame or under cloches. If a heated frame is not available, make up a hot-bed and sow carrots of the shorthorn type.

Prepare celery trenches, getting the compost well down below the top spit.

Force rhubarb by covering one or two crowns with a box or barrel and cover the outside with hay, bracken or long strawy manure.

Lift artichokes, celery, leeks and parsnips if the ground is not frozen.

For an early crop of broad beans, start sowing seed to grow under cloches until March.

Towards the end of the month, put seed potatoes into trays for sprouting and set them in a light, frost-proof greenhouse, shed or spare room.


Complete any winter pruning of top fruit, making sure to remove all dead wood and all suckers from the base of the trees; spray with a tar oil winter wash against hibernating insects.

Look over apples and pears in store and remove any showing signs of disease.


Be especially careful with watering now as the atmosphere dries very slowly.

Pot-grown shrubs may be brought inside for forcing at a temperature of 50° F. (10° C.) or a few degrees more.

Sow tuberous- and fibrous-rooted begonias in a temperature of 60° F. (16° C.).

Continue to take cuttings from stools of chrysanthemums, and put them into a propagating frame where an average temperature of-15 to 50° F. (7 to 10° C.) can be maintained.

From the garden lift crowns of rhubarb for forcing, and if they are frozen, so much the better. Pack them in soil in boxes and put them under the staging. Arrange sacking or boxes over them to keep them in complete darkness. In a temperature of between 55 and 65° F. (13 and 18° C.) sticks will be produced for pulling in about four weeks.

Sow seeds of tomatoes, onions and leeks in boxes, and exclude the light until they have germinated.

Start to sow seeds of antirrhinums, scarlet salvias and verbena in boxes or pans and cover with glass and brown paper until they have germinated.

Sow sweet pea seeds, two or three to a 3-in. pot — first chipping the hard coats of the seeds opposite the mark where the seed was attached to the pod) to help germination.

Tie in and prune peach trees growing under glass.

Carefully scrape the bark of vines under glass and paint with tar oil wash.

Sow seeds of cauliflower in boxes, giving them as much light as possible once they have germinated.

To grow large onions for exhibition, sow seed in boxes of John Innes seed compost early in the month. Keep them under the staging until germinated.

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26. September 2013 by admin
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