January Jobs in the Garden

Last month Julie gave us a great blog with ideas and inspiration on what to sow and grow in the garden at this time of year. Here at the Skip Garden, our broad beans and peas are doing well, and our salad greens are thriving in the poly tunnel.

Next month we’ll be busy sowing for spring and summer, but January can be a fairly quiet time in the garden, in terms of growing, at least. The cold weather and dark evenings can make working outdoors challenging, and can limit your activity out in the garden itself. So this is a great time of year to go indoors, put your feet up with a cup of tea, and do some reading around different plants, organic growing techniques, garden design, composting with worms - anything you want to know more about.

If you do want to get outside though, there is still plenty to be done. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

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We’ve tidied, sorted, and cleaned our poly tunnels. Once the polythene was clean, we could easily see all the little rips and holes that dotted the plastic and needed repairing. We use masking tape - a strip on both the inside and outside will seal any gaps. We’ve also tidied our garden shed and potting area; not the most glamorous job, but very satisfying, and so worth it.

The Skip Garden is open to the public so maintenance is especially important to us, but this is a great time of year to look around your own garden and see what needs repairing or replacing. Any buildings, furniture, decking, pathways etc. - take this chance to survey your garden and get going on any repairs.

Our work experience colleagues are doing a great job coating all of our wooden garden furniture with natural oils. As well as looking better, this provides protection from the elements and prolongs the life of our benches and tables.

To disinfect our indoor growing spaces, we used garlic fumigators, which are a cross between a firework and a candle (they’re also known as garlic candles). They’re really easy to use; just set one up in your glasshouse/poly tunnel etc, light the fuse, then get out and leave it to burn for two hours. They’ll kill pests but are safe for plants. And if you’re like me, you’ll amuse yourself by pretending you’re lighting dynamite.

Tool maintenance might not be the most interesting job in the garden (or anywhere) but we’ve set up a great system to clean our equipment. It doesn’t need to be complicated - we use soapy water to wash tools, and once dry, dunk them in a bucket of coarse sand with added oil (we use vegetable oil) to prevent rust, and give any wooden handles a quick rub with an oily rag to help stop them rotting.

On the topic of tools, we’ve also been sharpening our secateurs. It’s so important to keep your tools in good shape so that they do their job well and don’t damage your plants.

We love our worms in the Skip Garden and they haven’t been forgotten either. All five of our wormeries are all now snugly encased in layers of bubble wrap, scavenged from a building site just around the corner. Bubble wrap will help protect the worms from the worst of the cold, but the mice won’t like it and won’t try to set up home in it.

With all this done, there is a sense of order in the garden. Everything has been cleaned, tidied, repaired, or protected, and the team and the garden are ready for whatever 2019 may bring. What are you doing to prepare for the growing season?