Jobs for January’s garden

Jobs for the garden with Martin Fish

If your garden is lacking winter interest and structure, now is the perfect time to visit winter gardens or your local garden centre to buy a few new plants. Trees and shrubs with attractive stems or evergreens are perfect for adding winter interest.

Before it gets busy in spring, spend a little time checking gates, fences, trellis and sheds and carry out any repairs needed. Padlocks and locks will also benefit from a few drops of oil.

Now is a good time to carry out any repairs to lawns with turf, as long as your soil isn’t too wet. If you only want a small amount of turf to repair a few patches, you can often get this by reshaping or straightening a border.

If you like forced rhubarb, now is the time to cover over an established clump with a large up-turned bucket or forcing pot. Excluding the light will start it into early growth to produce sweet, pink sticks in early spring.

When the weather is fair and the soil not too wet, you can lift and divide established clumps of herbaceous perennials. Any spare pieces can be potted and saved until you find a home for them

To fully enjoy the new flowers on hellebores that will start pushing through the soil in a matter of weeks, cut off the old, leathery leaves to ground level. This also helps to prevent fungal black spots developing on the foliage.

Check gutters that feed into water butts and make sure the last of the soggy leaves have been removed to avoid any blockages.  I also like to give my watering cans a good clean out so that they are clean and free from fungal or bacterial spores that could damage small seedlings in spring.

Wisteria can be given its winter prune by cutting side shoots back to a couple of inches from the main branches.  It’s on these short spurs that flower buds will develop in spring.

Carry on pruning apple and pear trees while they are dormant, by thinning out crowded stems from the centre of the tree and shortening tall, vertical stems back to a sideways growing branch.

Keep preparing the vegetable plot by forking or digging over the soil and working in garden compost or well-rotted manure to increase the organic matter content.

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Happy gardening

 Martin Fish.