January in the Garden
Really the New Year in the garden is mostly about keeping an eye on stuff and keeping everything ticking over. Do remember to keep guard against low temperatures with extra protection at the ready and yet ventilate greenhouses and cold frames on brighter and less chilly days.
Indeed keeping an eye on the crops you already have in the ground is important – you could be enjoying broccoli, sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, chicory, kale, leeks, mizuna, Pak Choi (although ours have annoyingly burst into flower whilst I was looking at the sprouts), parsnips, spinach and swedes. Some might need a bit of support against windy weather, others need cropping (like our Pak Choi but I wasn’t looking at them) or digging up when the soil is not frozen!
Your stored veggies need to be checked too: there is truth in the saying ‘one bad apple…’ but remember to look at your onions and potatoes as well as your remaining squashes and pumpkins.
There are plenty of choices for growing in cold greenhouses or cold frames at this time of year. We particularly like things with a slightly peppery flavour such as rocket which go very well with every hot dish we have tried them with. Baby leaves are well worth a go, they are not as reliant on day length as you are picking them when they are so little.
Carefully choose varieties that can be sown at this time of year (our guide will help you) and spend the rest of the time enjoying the fresh air and pottering around getting your garden ready for the really busy times!
If you have already done all your winter digging (I haven’t) then I have a new digging job that you can start now: a traditional runner bean trench to provide a moist rich home. Here goes, first dig a trench 20-30cm deep and wide (each row of canes needs a trench so you will probably need 2 of them with a gap between!). Line your trench with newspaper (helps maintain moisture in the summer) and then add lots of vegetable kitchen waste, leaves, more shredded paper, grass clippings, part rotted compost from the top of the heap and when it is almost full cover with soil. As this mix rots down the level may sink a bit but don’t worry as that will make watering easier later in the year.
Also don’t worry about chitting potatoes yet - in fact I haven’t even bought my seed potatoes. I will be getting mine from the Potato Day held at the Cheese and Grain in Frome towards the end of February. For chitting you need a cool frost free place with some light (but not lots) so an unheated north facing spare bedroom might be ideal but I don’t have one of those. And our shed is not frost free at this time of year; trust me that frozen seed potatoes are very unhappy!
Of course if the weather is simply too horrible to tempt you outside then garden planning can fill up any amount of time – and browsing the amazing range available from MoreVeg is a cure-all for any winter blues that might be affecting your green-fingers!