COLUMN: Get growing in January

Our resident gardening expert Kate Giffen gives her best times for getting your garden growing in January in our monthly gardening column.
New bulbs sprouting.New bulbs sprouting.
New bulbs sprouting.

Welcome to a whole new year of growing. Did you have some time to reflect and plan your growing year? Hopefully you had a moment to look through some seed catalogues and maybe even order some favourites, or even have a think about trying something new.

January is the perfect month to get your potatoes sprouting or ‘chitting’ ready for planting out in March. Buy the early variety and leave them on a cool, light windowsill.

If you want to try some fast growing greens, then have a go at sprouting pea shoots. You can grow them from seed from the garden centre, but also from dried peas sold for eating.

"To dig or not to dig, that is the question.""To dig or not to dig, that is the question."
"To dig or not to dig, that is the question."

Soak them overnight and try growing them in pots about three or four inches deep, filled with soil and watered, on the windowsill.

This is a great way of getting some fresh, cheap, greens in your salad and is great fun to do with the kids too.

There is also still time to plant bare root trees and soft fruit trees and canes directly outside. Also to divide and replant rhubarb crowns – all space permitting of course.

If you have the option to sow seeds indoors or in a heated greenhouse, there is a surprising amount of seeds you can get on with sowing.

Tete a tete spring bulbs.Tete a tete spring bulbs.
Tete a tete spring bulbs.

Why not have a go at mustard, cress, parsley, asparagus, carrots, broad beans (can also go direct into the ground) chives, cucumber, parsley, onions, spinach, summer cabbages, summer cauliflower, aubergines, chillies, or

sweet peas.

Don’t forget though, sowing this early this is all just to give you an earlier crop than if you waited a few months.

You do need to be careful that the growing conditions aren’t too warm inside or as you might end up with leggy, unsustainable seedlings.

If you don’t have the space, a heated propagator or a greenhouse, nothing is lost, we are right at the beginning of the growing year and there will be plenty of time in the coming months get growing.

January is also a great time to prepare beds ready for planting. If there has been a lot of rain, like this winter, spend some time looking at where the water collects as it could be you need to add some drainage solutions this year.

At a time when we are thinking about preparing our empty beds:

To dig or not to dig, that is the question. I really think it is a matter of personal choice however there is a strong case that the no dig method of covering your soil with mulch (a layer of composting material) really does improve your soil structure and quality. Maybe do a bit of both.

I absolutely love to dig a bed over I must admit but do try to avoid digging when the soil is overly wet as it can compact the soil.

Do think about getting some bulbs in as they will bring you hope and pollinators. There is still time for spring as well as summer flowering bulbs.

This year I have gone for;

 Scilla siberica – tiny blue flowers. These are great for ground cover at the front of your bed, also perfect for pots and manage a clay soil well. Also hardy and fast spreading.

 Alliums for spring-summer bridging. Alliums flower later than most spring bulbs and are wonderful structural plants.

TOP TIP: plant in groups of odd numbers for a less formal, more natural look.

This year I have tried the dark pink Allium Cherry and the white and pink Allium Silver Spring. Alliums prefer a sunny spot, are fine in pots although will need a deep container to flourish.

Don’t forget to clean those tools and sort out your pots ready for the Spring. It will be here sooner thank you think!

See you next month for some February favourites.

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