Growers' Corner: January
As the new year begins, Capital Growth’s Julie Smith offers her expert advice on how to keep your garden growing through the last of the winter.
Prune fruit trees (except plums), bushes, and autumn raspberries on a dry day, using clean and sharp secateurs. Not sure how? Here’s a great guide from the Gardener’s World site:
Pruning Fruit Trees in Winter
Sow and plant
There are still a few things you can sow during the winter, including claytonia (also known as miner’s lettuce) - a deliciously juicy leaf the shape of a half moon, which is best eaten right after being harvested.
There is also still time to sow broad beans in an unheated greenhouse. I like all the aquadulce varieties, but the ‘sutton’ is a dwarf variety that will suit windy sites better. Don’t forget to cover these seeds, or risk leaving them open to hungry mice.
Plant all your bare root trees now - dig a hole twice as wide as you think you need, sprinkle some mycorrhizal fungi on the bare root of the tree (I like Rootgrow), and add plenty of good free-draining soil around it. Then mulch the area generously with wood chips.
Work with the Weather
Keep an eye on the weather for frosty nights, and ensure you don’t water plants profusely if it’s going to freeze. Also try not to leave water at the bottom of trays - no one likes frozen feet! More serious growers should consider obtaining a thermometer and a rain gauge – it will be helpful to know how much rain has fallen, and what the temperature is.
Winter is a great time to give your tools some love and care: wash, oil, and sharpen them.
Clean your polytunnel, and fumigate to get rid of overwintering pests. Traditionally sulphur candles are used, but I prefer the more natural garlic version (search garlic greenhouse candle/smoke), which won’t harm any plants left in there.
Julie is a food growing trainer for Capital Growth, part of London Food Link. Find details of this season’s workshops (and 50% discount for LFL supporters) from Capital Growth's website