Gardening jobs this month: January
What to do in the garden in January, from the gardening experts of Prima and Country Living
From Prima gardening expert Ann-Marie Powell:
■ Dig over soil in the vegetable garden.
■ Plant new fruit bushes if the ground is not frozen.
■ Continue taking hardwood cuttings of deciduous trees, shrubs and currant bushes.
■ Buy or order vegetable seeds and seed potatoes.
■ Collect egg boxes to chit potatoes in.
■ Cut the old leaves from hellebores to reveal their flowers.
■ Plant bare-root roses, trees, shrubs and hedging.
■ Melt frozen pond surfaces so fish can breathe.
■ Recycle your Christmas tree or shred it for mulch.
■ Treat timber structures such as pergolas, fences and obelisks.
■ Prune apple and pear trees.
■ Regularly put out food and water for birdlife.
■ Begin forcing rhubarb by covering plants with a forcing pot or bucket.
■ Repair lawn edges or patches
From Country Living gardening editor Stephanie Donaldson:
In the greenhouse
■ Bring potted strawberry plants into the greenhouse and place on a shelf in goodlight for an early crop.
■ Make sure your heated propagator is clean and in good working order.
■ Ventilate greenhouses and cold frames on fine days
■ Check greenhouse or conservatory plants for pests or diseases and treat promptly.
■ Prepare the greenhouse for seed-sowing.
■ Turn the compost heap to encourage the process
■ Remove and burn dead leaves from around roses to control black spot
■ Use gritty sand rather than salt on icy paths to avoid damage to adjacent plants
■ This is a good time to sharpen the edges of flower beds.
Planting and sowing
■ Pinch out autumn-sown sweet-pea tips once the plant has four pairs of leaves
■ Cover soil with cloches or fleece ready for early seed sowing.
■ Plant out indoor bulbs that have finished flowering in a spot where they can naturalise.
■ Surround pots of bulbs with wire netting or sprigs of prickly holly to prevent hungry squirrels digging them up.
■ As the new flowers begin to emerge on hellebores, cut away the old leaves. This not only allows them to be seen at their best, it also removes leaves infected with leaf spot. Do not compost diseased leaves. Feed the plants with compost or well-rotted manure.
■ Order seeds and seed potatoes for chitting
■ Buy or order your seed potatoes ready to chit them in February.
■ Send off seed orders to ensure you get your first choice of varieties.
■ Once the seeds arrive, write the labels and paperclip them to the packets - time-saving later and enjoyable now.
Fruit and veg
■ Broad beans can be sown in pots for planting out later.
■ Check stored fruit and vegetables regularly and use or throw away any that are showing signs of deterioration.
■ Cover rhubarb plants with straw or dry leaves and a forcer or old bucket to encourage early shoots.
■ When weather allows, dig over heavy soil, incorporating plenty of coarse grit with the compost or manure to improve soil texture.
■ Remove perennial weeds from beneath fruit trees and bushes and apply a mulch.
■ Avoid compacting the soil in the vegetable borders by standing on a plank of wood when working.