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Gardening through the year

Gardening jobs for January

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Gardening jobs for January

Our experts suggest buying seed potatoes, feeding fruit plants and planting bare-root plants in January.

 

Buy seed potatoes

The early bird catches the worm, and the early shopper catches the best range of potato varieties. Look out for 'potato days' at local garden centres or gardens; these usually offer a great choice of potatoes to buy, plus expert advice.

Choose potatoes without long shoots or any signs of mould. When you get them home, tip them out of the bag into a seed tray or an old egg box and leave them in a cool, light place until you plant them. This will discourage the sprouts from growing too long.

Feed fruit plants

Give the fruit trees and bushes in your garden a boost by sprinkling sulphate of potash around the base of the plants and gently hoeing it into the soil surface - be careful not to damage any roots near the surface. It's a good idea to mulch around the plants afterwards to conserve moisture in the soil.

Feeding will provide the potash they need to flower and fruit well. Check the fertiliser packaging and apply at the recommended rate; don't be tempted to add extra as it could damage the plant.

Avoid hellebore leaf spot

This common fungal disease causes round, brown spots on the leaves and stems of hellebores. 

The best advice is remove any infected growth that you find. Ashwood Nurseries, which specialises in hellebores among other plants, recommends cutting off all the foliage, diseased or not, to help stop the new season's growth becoming infected with the fungus. It will also stop the leaves obscuring the flowers are they emerge.

Try cutting off individual flower heads and floating them in a bowl in the house to enjoy their beautiful markings and colours.

Plant a bare-root tree

Whether you're planting an ornamental tree or a fruiting one it's a good time of year to do it, as deciduous plants are dormant and you can buy them bare root (ie not in a pot), which is cheaper. Many mail-order nurseries specialise in selling trees this way. When they arrive in the post, plant them as soon as you can. If you have to wait (because the weather is wet, for example), dig the garden and put in the tree, ready to lift for when you can plant it properly.

Dig the planting hole no deeper than the roots, but at least twice their spread. Place the plant in the hole and spread the roots out. Then refill with soil, gently pushing down while you're doing it to eliminate any air pockets.

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