It might be mid-January but there’s plenty to do inside… and outdoors if the mood takes you.
•Keep an eye on those lovely plants you were given for Christmas or at new year. If the room in which they’re kept is always warm they will need more water than those in a cold one. To be sure, push your fingers into the top of the compost in the pot and water when it feels dry. Cyclamen prefer a cool room with plenty of light but do not keep them in a sunny window. If leaves on poinsettias are turning yellow at the bottom of the plant, they are being overwatered.
•Holly seeds can be sown now. Squeeze the berries on to a postcard or piece of cardboard and after a week the seeds can be picked out of the squashed flesh and sown in a seed tray of seed compost. They need no heat. Simply put the trays outdoors well out of the way of cats. If kept moist they will germinate in April. If you don’t want to sow the seeds, push stems of holly used for winter decoration around the house into the soil in a border and blackbirds will soon eat the berries.
•Save mistletoe seeds, Put the berries in a brown envelope with the words ‘mistletoe seeds’ on the outside. These can be pushed on to the undersides of apple, lime, alder and poplar trees in March. They don’t germinate if set at this time of year. The flesh on the berries needs to become dry.
•Prick over the soil where spring-flowering bedding plans such as polyanthus, forget-me-nots and winter-flowering pansies were planted. This will encourage a good root action because the surface compaction will be broken.
•Try to get on with digging and manuring where potatoes, peas and beans are to be planted.
•Make a note of the additional minutes of light we are now experiencing. Put a note in your new gardening diary of plants which are looking good. It’s good to read what happened now in a few years.
•Sow exhibition onions from seeds in the propagator in the greenhouse. Seeds of onions sown now are far less likely to go to seed quickly in early summer.
•To keep the little ones occupied, get them to jot down the names of birds visiting the garden. If there are none, buy some wild bird food and you will be amazed how quickly they arrive to feed. Soak bread in water and put this in the centre of the garden so the birds have a chance to fly away from cats and please don’t throw bread into the road. Cars also kill birds. Shrivelled apples cut in half and left in a clear spot are much enjoyed by blackbirds.
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