Happy New Gardening Year! If you haven’t already started to think about what to grow in the garden then you probably didn’t read last month’s gardening tips about planning for the next growing season.
But not to worry, you can thank the winter weather for affording you the time to play catch up after all the festivities of December because while there isn’t a great deal to be done to satisfy your urge to keep busy out in your garden, there’s plenty to do in preparation.
What do soil and cake have in common?
First thing is first, don’t be tempted to start working in the garden while the weather is still cold and wet/damp. Winter is a sensitive time of year for soil and even the innocent movement of footsteps around your allotment could cause it to compact and deflate in volume.
Think of your soil as cake.
A great sponge cake is light, airy and has volume. You could even add extra ingredients to enhance the flavour or texture so that the end product is even greater quality.
Well for plants, compacted soil is more like a pancake (a crepe pancake to be more specific), flat, dense, there’s not much they can do with it.
If you want happy plants, let your soil be the sponge cake.
Compact Soil Explained…
Soil compaction occurs when stress and manipulation (from footsteps and soil movement) causes the density of soil to increase which in turn restricts the root growth of plants in development.
The density of the soil further affects soil porosity. By reducing the number of small holes within the soil, compaction restricts the movement of water and air which are essential for delivering nutrients to plants.
Don’t let the impatience of wanting to get back out into the garden stunt your growth before you have even started. Wait it out.
Keep the Compost Heap Going
Hopefully, your compost heap is still going strong and before you know it, you will be putting it to good use in the garden. To help you along the way, here are a few tips to improve your compost this month:
1. Keep the compost heap healthy by adding a mix of carbon and nitrogen ingredients.
2. Make use of cardboard and paper packaging used for gifts over the holiday season to balance out the wet ingredients that might have taken over during the transition to autumn/winter.
3. Continue to turn and aerate the compost to encourage biological activity or take it a step further and give it a boost with Compost Accelerator!
What to Grow
If you haven’t already, January is the time to consider which crops you want to grow and to begin collecting all the seeds and planning your plot for the year!
Here’s a quick generic guide to the sowing period for some of the most common/popular crops:
- Beetroot (March – July)
- Carrots (March – August)
- Chillies & Peppers (March – April)
- Garlic (January – March)
- Peas (January – July)
- Runner Beans (April – June)
- Spring Onions (March – September)
- Summer Radishes (January – September)
- Swiss Chard (April – August)
- Tomatoes (February – April)
While we encourage you to try your best to wait until the weather warms up and things are generally drier before getting to work outdoors, in the meantime, why not consider sowing indoors?
Top crops to sow indoors in January:
These crops are usually sown in February but you can try sowing them indoors early to experiment and get your season started ahead!
- Broad Beans
- Lettuce/Salad Leaves
Plant Fruit Trees and Bushes
One other exception to not working in the garden at the moment is when planting fruit trees and bushes. While we stress not to be tempted to start working in the garden during this time, winter is the perfect season for planting fruits because of their dormant state.
So if you’re dreaming of harvesting apples, blueberries, pears or raspberries this year, some of the most popular fruit crops, check out our beginner tips for growing fruit trees and plants.