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 with the end with the most buds uppermost
in a light, frost-free place to begin to sprout or “chit”. Plant them outdoors in late
January is the best month for winter washing fruit trees and rose bushes, using Vitax
or Growing Success Winter Tree Wash.
Keep off frosted or wet grass. If dry give the lawn a trim over before getting the
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 there is
no problem with that.
Remember to feed your garden birds and make sure that water is also available for
them. Try to tailor the feeds given to the bird species that visit your garden.
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
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.
If 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 plums and cherries which are pruned in
If your greenhouse is empty, clean and disinfect 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.
Avoid overwatering foliage plants, while plants in flower are likely to need more
frequent watering. Keep an eye open for pests and diseases.
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.
The ready germinated seedlings and young plug plants should be available now
ready for growing on in a heated greenhouse. This method removes some of the risk
of growing your own plants from seed, as well as offering young plants that can only
be propagated by cuttings.
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 chicken manure now. It will provide a gentle boost through the growing
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.