Three Jolly Jobs For January

Jolly? Well, no not really.  That was… A) A feeble attempt to get you to read this and B) Because I’m always up for a bit of extra curricular alliteration but, nevertheless, these three jobs are important and/or productive.

January can be miserable. It’s cold, Christmas is a distant memory and the kids are already trying to stuff Easter eggs in your trolley faster than you can say “You’re grounded”.  So why not get out in the garden or plot, roll your sleeves up…then roll them down again ‘cos it’s freezing cold… and do something useful to make sure the spring finds you ready and able. I mean, come on. The nights are slowly getting shorter and it’s nearly February!

1. Dig Over Any Vacant Plots That You Have Not Already Dug

Simple digging is basic and absolutely essential. You don’t want to reach the growing season only to find you got nothing grown and no space due to the couch grass spreading like hot butter on a crumpet. Yes you should really have done this digging before but you haven’t and, to be fair, if you get on to it now it’s not too late. Make sure you have a good quality garden fork and spade . Get the fork in and turn the soil over, break up clumps, remove weeds. Think about using some compost on the ground and, good tip here, cover it before you go home for your tea. Cover it with heavy duty plastic if possible to stop weeds coming back and, please, make sure the plastic is well weighed down. The wind can play havoc with plastic sheeting and if you have left it for a while the weeds will get in there fast and furious. If you have a serious back issue then a cultivator or tiller might help.

2. Prune Your Apple or Pear Trees

Rebschnitt im WinterYes, apples and pears, the cockney gardener’s favourite fruit trees. These are asleep and doing nothing during this season and the lack of leaves means you can really get in there, see what you are doing and improve the chances of a good crop later in the year. Get into the centre of the tree to give it space and remove any damaged or diseased branches, downward growing branches or branches that are crossing or interfering with each other. You will need a good pair of secateurs. f there are heavy, larger branches that need dealing with, you might need a good pole pruner or chain saw If it’s too much, you can always get a professional in!

 3. Time To Force Your Rhubarb

To do what? I hear you ask. Don’t be silly I reply. You know exactly what I mean. No? OK. You can get earlier crops of rhubarb by covering it in this season rather than waiting until later in the year. An upturned dustbin or compost bin will probably do it as long as you make sure it doesn’t blow away or get knocked over. Also the cover must be totally free of holes. No light must get in. Covering the rhubarb forces it to search for light and it will grow straight upward, obvious pink colour and, as many gardeners will tell you it is often sweeter and more tender with a more vibrant pink colour. If it is particularly cold you might try covering the crown with straw before the bin goes on.

Yum! Go on, force yourself.

And that’s it for now. Obviously there are many more jobs to do before you can afford to stand by and take a real breath, but this three-way mixture of tree care, soil cultivation and making sure you’ve got something to stick in a pie in March is just the job for now as far as I am concerned.

Enjoy your garden

Drew Hardy

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