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By the fireside. A lot of your gardening can be done, and probably is even best done, in this position in the first month of the year. Read seed catalogues, and send off orders, for both flower and vegetable seeds. It is not too late to order dormant ornamental plants and fruit trees and bushes either.

Have a critical look at the garden through the window and see if there are any alterations, either structural or to the growing plants you think you ought to make, and keep these in mind.

In the shed

There will be a lot of days when you cannot work outside this month, but you can go through your tools and make sure that they are clean and well oiled and sharp, where appropriate. It is a good time to get the mower serviced and any electrical equipment checked over for faults. Seed trays and plant pots should always be clean before they are re-used, so you could give these a quick bath. Check stored summer crops, bulbs and tubers periodically to make sure they are not rotting. If any of them are, throw them out immediately, and examine those next to them to make sure the infection is not starting to spread.

Put early new potatoes ‘rose’ end upwards (the end with most ‘eyes’) in a wooden box, to sprout.

In the greenhouse

If you have a heated greenhouse, you can sow sweet peas, begonias, gloxinias, freesias, aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers, leeks, large onions and summer cauliflowers. Do not be tempted to sow bedding plants too soon, they will be ready before the weather has warmed up sufficiently to plant them outside. This applies particularly to seeds sown on kitchen window-ledges. Light levels are still comparatively low at this time of year, especially in the house, and seedlings soon become drawn-up and unhealthy.

Pick off and remove dead leaves on overwintering tender plants before they begin to rot and encourage disease in the greenhouse. Do this regularly all through the year with plants under glass.


The maxim for this month is: when in doubt, leave well alone. Do not walk on frosty ground or dig it if you can help it, and do not walk on frozen lawns or you will damage the grass and encourage diseases. Do not prune or plant in frosty weather. If plants arrive that you cannot deal with, immediately put them in the shed or garage and cover with straw, sacking or similar insulating material to prevent them drying out.


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