January and February are times when people think there is little to do in the garden. Combined with the cold weather, there’s understandably a lack of motivation to get outside and do gardening. As a result, our gardens can look dull and in need of some care. However, you may be surprised there are many jobs you can get busy with in the garden this January and February.
January gardening snapshot
- - Protect plants from the cold weather.
- - Help wildlife through the harsh winter months.
- - Take cuttings from roots, including trees and shrubs.
- - Monitor force-growing bulbs.
- - Begin sowing Spring vegetable crops.
During January, you can dig into plenty of jobs to help your garden for a blooming display this summer. Here are the jobs you can get busy with to prepare your garden ready for Spring.
Planting from seeds
One of the first gardening jobs you can start with in January is growing plants from seeds. It’s too early to plant seeds outside in the garden. However, you can begin sowing and growing seeds inside where it is warm (in the house, heated greenhouse, etc.).
Growing plants from seeds is highly rewarding as you watch the care and effort reflected in the seed’s growth. Fortunately, growing plants from seeds is easy and doesn’t require many specialised gardening tools.
You can successfully grow seeds indoors if you don’t have a heated greenhouse or propagator. All the seeds require is a little warm soil to help them germinate and start growing. In most cases, you can do this inside without any additional heating equipment.
The number of seeds and variety you grow is entirely your choice. With many different seeds available, you’ll be spoilt for choices of which ones to go for. Alongside growing summer bedding plants, you can also grow some vegetables, such as tomatoes.
You only need to find a suitable plant pot, fill it with compost, plant the seeds to an appropriate depth, and gently warm the soil from below. The important thing to remember is not to overwater. A gentle watering every day is recommended.
While getting the lawnmower out and giving it a mow is not recommended, there are some other lawn jobs you can get busy with in January. The first is to improve the drainage. Ensuring your lawn doesn't become waterlogged is recommended with the large amount of rain we are seeing.
The best way to do this is by digging a gardening fork into the soil about 15cm or 6 inches deep and then wiggling the fork slightly. It is important to do this when the surface is dry. Spread a sand and soil mixture over the area to prevent the holes from covering up.
January is also a time when you can make some much-needed repairs to the lawn. In particular, hollows and bumps should be addressed in January. It is best to do this when the weather is mild and dry for the best results.
If you also spot worm casts in the lawn, now is an excellent time to disperse them. January is a busy month for worms, so you are more likely to notice casts in the lawn. All that is required is you brush them off the lawn.
You can also get busy laying new turf this month. It is important to lay turf only on well-prepared ground that is not wet or frozen. Once laid, keep off the new turf to help it settle. You should also avoid stepping on icy grass, which can lead to yellowing.
January and February are the coldest months of the year, so your plants can suffer from the harsh weather. Therefore, you must find suitable ways to protect your plants. Firstly, in the event of snow, you should brush any heavy snow off your plants as the weight of the snow can damage them.
You can also protect recently planted trees and shrubs from strong winds. The best way to do this is by using a windbreak. Examples of effective windbreaks include horticultural fleece, bubble wrap, or polythene. Always make sure the air can circulate and light reaches the tree.
You should also make sure plants outside are well protected from harsh frosts. You can use the same methods above to ensure your plants aren’t damaged from the harsh cold. Alternatively, moving the plants inside, such as a heated or insulated greenhouse, can be effective.
January is also a good time for taking root cuttings from your perennial plants. Taking root cuttings is an effective method to increase your plants to enjoy even more beautiful blooms. It also doesn’t require much in the way of equipment.
Long, fleshy roots are the most effective for taking root cuttings, although you can do this with most plants. All you need to do is:
- 1. Dig up the plant and wash off as much soil as possible.
- 2. Make a diagonal cut across the root bottom.
- 3. Insert the cutting upright into mixed compost.
- 4. Put into a frost-free cold frame and water well.
- 5. Separate the cuttings as new growth appears in the spring.
February gardening snapshot
- - Prune winter flowering shrubs and roses.
- - Add organic fertiliser.
- - Plant and support newly planted trees and shrubs.
- - Start growing dahlia tubers and tender perennials indoors.
- - Prepare vegetable beds for seeds.
February is the hardest month for wildlife, including birds. As food and water are scarce, many birds may be tempted to take a pick at your garden by stealing your seeds and bulbs. Fortunately, you can prevent this through a simple trick.
You can distract birds from taking your seeds and bulbs by putting food out for them. Putting a bird box up is the best way for the birds to come and take the food and provides them with a regular source. Just remember to keep topping it up.
If you haven’t done any pruning in the garden, February is the best time to do it. Overgrown trees and shrubs should all be pruned. Pruning helps promote fresh growth and improves the health and shape of the plant. The plants you should consider pruning include:
- - Trees and shrubs
- - Evergreens
- - Winter-flowering heathers
- - Winter-flowering shrubs
- - Late-flowering shrubs
For those with a vegetable garden, now is the perfect time to prepare for planting seeds. The best time to prepare your seed beds is when the ground is dry. Make sure you rake the soil and remove any large stones or debris.
After raking the soil, apply an organic fertiliser to the soil up to two weeks before sowing seeds to ensure the nutrients are readily in the soil for germination. After preparing the seedbeds, cover them with cloches or polythene to keep the rain and snow away.
You can also start getting busy with planting this month to prepare for the spring. There are some perennials and bulbs you can start growing in February. To begin with, you should always ensure the soil is clear of weeds and then dig over the planting areas.
As we reach the end of the month, you can begin feeding perennials some fertiliser as they grow. Also, any dahlia tubers stored over winter can be safely potted. Snowdrops can also be planted in February alongside lilies and other plants for summer flowering.
You can also begin to sow hardy annuals in modules. It’s too early to start planting annual seeds outside. However, planting them inside using module trays gives you a head start. That way, you’ll have some annuals ready to be grown and put out in the spring.
There's plenty to dig into with these gardening jobs for January and February. Before you know it, the Spring will be on us, and the gardens will become a blooming haven of plants. Until then, make sure you make the effort to prepare well over the winter months.