The Garden 2023 – January

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Oh January, you are such a torment! Seed catalogues are dropping through your door and all the FaceBook groups are filled with people asking what they can grow now or posting pictures of stuff they’ve sown but the weather is vile, often very wet and cold.

So what should you be doing in January? Well I’ll be honest, I’ve done virtually nothing so far. I’m currently stuck on the sofa, feeling pretty dreadful with a chest infection I’ve had since the start of December. I’ve just been prescribed some steroids and anti-biotics which will hopefully clear things up.

Once I’m feeling better, my list for January will be as follows:

  • The Big Tidy : The garden, greenhouse and up at the allotment; I was still picking tomatoes in November so everything just got left during December and it’s a bit of a mess. The raised beds need topping up with compost and the greenhouse needs a good clean.

    We are currently having a new area built at the bottom of the garden, which will give me a proper space for my bees, a nice new potting shed and space for a polytunnel. I’m really looking forward to sorting out these new spaces as well and getting the existing spaces much more organised and tidy.
  • Planting : I’ve still got all my garlic that needs to get into the ground as soon as possible, it’s from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm and I’ve had great success with it in the past but it’s not going to grow in a cardboard box! Ideally it should have been sown before the Winter Solstice but better late than never.

  • Sowing : It’s really pretty early to be considering sowing anything yet but there are some things that you can start throughout January
    • Chillis and peppers – The capsicum family is quite slow growing and needs a nice long growing season, especially the hotter chillis. I start them in a heated propagator under lights from about mid-January. They need light to ensure that they grow evenly and don’t get leggy.
    • Aubergines (eggplants) – Similar to the chillis and peppers, they like a nice long growing season and very similar conditions.
    • Celery and celeriac – Another couple of vegetables that love a long growing season. Sow in a heated propagator but move off the heat once they’ve germinated.
    • Onions and leeks – It used to be traditional to start your onion seed on Boxing Day but they can also be sown during January. Some of the early leek varieties do well being sown at this time as well. They don’t need a heated propagator but they do need an ambient temperature on a sunny windowsill or in an unheated greenhouse. Onions grown from seed are slower but less likely to go to seed than onions grown from sets plus there is a wider choice of varieties. Spring onions can also be sown now for an early crop but they prefer slightly warmer conditions such as a indoor windowsill. Infact it’s probably a good idea to sow a few modules of spring onions every couple of weeks throughout the season to ensure a continuous supply.
    • Broad beans Broad beans are pretty tough cookies and they like cool temperatures. They can be sown now in pots and grown on in an unheated greenhouse.
    • Early brassicas and greens – Cauliflower and kale, salad leaves and spinach will germinate now on a windowsill. Sow in modules and plant out after all risk of frost has passed.
    • Flowers – Antirrhinum’s (snapdragons), sweet peas, lobelia, pelargoniums and dianthus can all be sown in January.
  • Potatoes – January is the time to start chitting potatoes. Around the country, there are often events known as Potato Days, where you can buy an interesting selection of varieties. Here in North Lancashire, we have one in Lancaster at the end of January, which is a fantastic day and includes a seed swap and food from a local social enterprise, The Global Village Cafe.

January is also a great time to go through your seed store and decide what you would like to grow, this is the one task I did manage to do, mainly because it was something I could do sat down, surfing the internet. Nothing quite like the buzz of envelopes full of seeds dropping through the door 🤣

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