The cold has set in and the gardener can move faster than the garden!

Here are some useful January gardening tips which will give you a good guide as to what jobs can be done now in the garden.

Early January

Protect vulnerable plants from frost damage and scorching due to cold winds.

Warm up the soil for early sowings by covering an area with a polythene sheet, or cloches. If weed seedlings germinate under this all well and good, just hoe them off.

Seed potatoes are around now, buy them soon while there is still a good choice of varieties available. Stand them in trays, the end with the most buds uppermost in a light, frost-free place to begin to sprout or “chit”. Plant them outdoors in late spring.

January is the best month to winter wash fruit trees and rose bushes, using Winter Tree Wash.

Keep off frosted or wet grass. If dry give the lawn a trim over before getting the mower serviced.

Check over Hellebores and remove any foliage showing the characteristic black blotches of leaf spot disease. Even if this means removing most of the leaves the plants will soon recover.

Remember to feed your garden birds and make sure that water is also available for them.

Mid January

Continue to prepare the vegetable garden for the new season, unless it is too wet to dig. If you get desperate you could always spread your weight by working off a plank.

Apples and pears, but not plums, cherries or any stone fruits, as well as currants, gooseberries, and summer fruiting raspberries can all be pruned now.

January Gardening TipsIf you have a heated greenhouse, plant up some sprouted seed potatoes in 12 inch pots of John Innes compost No 3. The crop should be ready in April.

Seeds are uppermost in gardeners’minds at the moment. Make sure that you buy yours soon as some varieties may be in short supply.

Check over your trees and shrubs, as this is a good time to prune off any dead, diseased or misplaced branches except on Prunus family members.

If your greenhouse is empty, clean and fumigate it ready for the new season. In an unheated greenhouse, or cold frame, sow some early salads. Try winter lettuce, forcing radishes, spring onions and stump-rooted carrots.

Late January

Cut back climbing plants, like Virginia creeper, ivy, climbing hydrangea etc. Grown on house walls by at least 45cm (18in) from all window and door frames. The plants can continue growth in spring without obstructing them.

Privet hedges that have been allowed to get out of control can be cut back hard at this time of year. This will encourage strong new growth from the base.

Hedges are often ignored when it comes to feeding, so give them a dressing of Pelleted Organic Fertiliser now. It will provide a gentle boost through the growing season.

This is a good time to apply garden lime, especially in the vegetable plot. Lime and manure should never be applied at the same time, so where manure was dug in during the autumn, put the lime on now.

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