Christmas is over, New Year’s Eve has gone up in smoke, and the new year doesn’t feel that new or fresh any more. But none of that matters. After the winter holidays, there’s lots to do in the garden again. It’s time for buying things for the garden, pruning and checking what you’ve stored from the harvest. Regardless of what the winter weather is like, you can look forward to working in the garden and after all that hard word, you can reward yourself with a nice hot drink.
CHOOSE AND ORDER SEEDS IN JANUARY
The most affordable way to spruce up your garden with beautiful colours and delicious vegetables is to sow using seed bags. In January, there’s plenty of time to choose and order seeds. It pays to compare what’s available, as the range has never been as wide as it is today, regardless of whether the seeds are local, exotic or organic seeds. As long as you order the seeds this month, you’ll have plenty of time to sow them and plant the seedlings later.
PRE-GROW DAHLIAS NOW
Yes, dahlias can also be propagated from cuttings. The first thing you need to do is get the dahlia tubers from the cellar and plant them in a pot with fresh soil. Then place the pot on a draught-free windowsill with good light. If after about three weeks four-inch-long shoots have formed from the dahlia tubers, you can gently loosen them. Remove the top pair of leaves from the shoots, then dip the lower part of the cuttings in rooting agent from the garden centre and plant it in a pot with planting soil. Pull a plastic bag over the pot and then put it back on the bright windowsill. Water the new plant carefully and regularly for four weeks. From time to time, lift the plastic bag off so that the plant gets fresh air. Then replant the new dahlia in a larger pot. In May, it’s time to let your new plant move outdoors. A tip: before you plant the new dahlia in your flowerbed, let it slowly get used to the outdoor temperature. This is best done by placing it on a terrace or balcony, where it’s quiet and there’s less wind.
DON’T FORGET THE COMPOST
It’s important to turn your compost in January as well. So, let´s get started – the bottom layer should be placed on top and the one on the right should be moved to the left, and vice versa. Although composting is mainly done via heat, it’s important to make sure there’s enough oxygen. The oxygen stimulates the bacteria that break down the kitchen waste and other material into compost. This generates the necessary heat – even in winter. Tip: sprinkle the finished compost soil over the ground as early as January. This allows worms and the weather lots of time to work the compost material into the soil before spring, so that the beds are then immediately ready for sowing.
CHRISTMAS TREES CAN BE REUSED IN THE GARDEN
Every year it’s the same: Christmas is over and you need to throw away your Christmas tree. But how should you get rid of it? Should I take it to the tip? No! Instead of throwing the tree away, you can use it in the garden. You can use it as winter protection for the plants. Saw off the branches and place them over your roses as protection, between the hydrangeas or on your seedling beds. Finally, saw the trunk of the tree into manageable pieces. You can use these on your fire for warmth at the end of the day. Why not invite your neighbours to enjoy the heat from the fire?
SET UP BIRD HOUSES NOW
During a mild winter, the birds start looking for nests early. That’s why it’s a good idea to clean the old birdhouses or set up new ones as early as January. When setting up birdhouses, keep this in mind: The birdhouses must be at least two to three metres (6,6 to 9.8 feet) above the ground and there must be at least ten metres (32.8 feet) between them. This makes sure that the bird families don’t get in each other’s way when they’re looking for food. The entrance to the birdhouse should be facing east or southeast. This means that the young bird families that move in are protected from heat. To prevent rain from entering the birdhouse, it should lean slightly forward. If you want to set up the birdhouse in a tree, make sure you use stainless steel nails or a wire bracket that doesn’t damage the tree. Another piece of advice: Let the birdhouses hang there until January next year. Birds, small mammals, and insects can use them after the breeding season to rest and overwinter.
CHECK YOUR STORES ONCE A WEEK
In January it doesn’t hurt to check once a week at what you have stored from the harvest in the garden. It’s the only way to be able to intervene in time if fruits and vegetables that you have stored are at risk of going bad. When checking your stored food, pay particular attention to a white cotton-like braid pattern. That’s a sign of a dangerous fungal infection of root vegetable rot. Infected vegetables must be removed immediately, otherwise the fungal infection spreads quickly and can ruin your entire stored crop in no time. You should also check your stored fruit carefully. Remove any rotten fruit. Otherwise, the rotting may spread to other fruit. If you store apples in a garden shed, stack the apples well before the first frost. Insulate your fruit supply with bubble wrap and put blankets over it. In this way, the stored harvest should be able to withstand even severe frost without damage.
RENEW THE BRANCHES IN JANUARY
Climbing plants have no leaves in January, so you can use this time to check your trellis and rose frames. Maybe they need repainting? Do they need to be changed? Are the fastenings still in good shape? Prune the climbing plants sufficiently to leave four or five strong head shoots. Detach them from the trellis and begin the renovation work. When you are done, put the climbing plants’ shoots back between the trellis’ bars. Done.
PRUNE TREES IN THE GARDEN NOW
We need to prune sick trees in the garden or that huge tree that’s threatening to fall onto your house. January is the best time for it. But find out what rules apply: Many local authorities have rules that prohibit felling of trees over a certain size. If this is the case, you’ll need to apply for a permit. Also, keep in mind that you should only fell the tree yourself if you have the right knowledge and experience. If you don’t, then you should hire a professional. But then you can chop the wood so that it’s ready for the fireplace. That is a lot of fun – especially with the right tools! Tips: In several municipalities, fruit trees are exempt from the regulations. You can cut down fruit trees yourself.