January is the quietest time in the gardening calendar. Short days and freezing temperatures means that it is more a time for staying in and planning, but if you do get a lovely crisp sunny day then nothing can beat taking a thermos of tea down to the allotment and getting a fire going to clear some of the dead wood. The resulting ash is an excellent addition to the soil.
I find myself on the plot almost every New Year’s Day, making plans and redesigning. To me part of the fun is in the design and planning stage. That said, there are still jobs to be done while the plants lay dormant.
Jobs for January
Trees and Shrubs
Winter is the time to prune most trees and shrubs, but it is always worth double checking your variety if unsure. Pests and fungal problems are less prevalent in winter so there are less likely to be problems from pruning. It is also the time to plant bare root trees or move any small trees or shrubs if so desired.
Spray Fruit Trees and Soft Fruit Bushes with Winter Wash
Winter wash does what it says on the tin; it removes dust, dirt, insect debris, fungal spores and – heroically – the substances on and in which pests lay their eggs. Apply it between now and the middle of February on a dry day when it is not freezing and it will nip many a problem waiting to hatch in the bud.
This is the time to choose your seed potatoes. I always do a first early, a couple of second earlys and a main crop. I always chose seed potatoes as they have a greater resistance to disease and I’ve noticed a significantly larger crop than from shop bought or last years spuds. Get the potatoes chitting in egg cartons in a dry, light place.
If you get some decent dry weather and the ground is dry enough then prepping beds can begin but don’t work the ground when wet. You’ll cause more damage in the long run by compacting the soil. Similarly, avoid walking on the beds if wet. If you must then use planks to stand on to distribute the weight.
Fruit bushes can pruned to make room for new growth and autumn raspberries cut back down to ground.