Notoriously unpredictable, the weather in January makes it necessary to keep work plans flexible so jobs can be fitted around conditions and best use made of warmer, drier days.
Records and certificate
Start fresh records for all the garden tasks and observations.
Record weather and events, such as waterlogging, as these will help with future design work and the planning of tasks.
Start logs for work records, pests and disease incidence, staff training, purchase and service of tools and equipments, fuel use, crop rotations and yields, varietal performances, planting and sowing. There are legal requirements to record spraying, tree inspections and accidents.
Make sure certificates such as insurance and MoTs remain appropriate and note renewal dates.
Look back at the last few year’s garden and weather records, especially areas of excess shade, waterlogging or rapid drying out, to determine remedial works such as pruning, drainage or aeration, organic matter incorporation or irrigation needs.
Carry out soil testing to determine fertiliser programmes, new plantings and sowings.
Finalise crop rotation for production of fruit, vegetables and flowers in the kitchen garden.
Place orders for any last minute seed and plant requirements, growing media, pots and containers, labels, fertilisers and chemicals.
Determine staff training requirements in terms of updates, including first aid and machinery use, and investigate short courses at local land-based centres in order to fill skills gaps.
Consider tool and machinery replacement and servicing programmes, planning for the future.
Update the budget and consider possible cost savings, such as mowing regimes, and potential revenue generators.
Update events calendar with estate and local events. Consider new events to generate revenue.
Plan campaigns to promote the garden and its events.
If you had a break over Christmas, you may need to stretch your muscles and build up physical activities gradually.
Repair walls, paths and outdoor furniture when conditions permit.
Take regular photographic records of the garden.
Update garden plans with new features and write down or sketch any sudden inspiration relating to the garden design.
Put brushes, shovels and grit ready to clear snow when and where needed.
Ensure outdoor pipes and taps are lagged.
Make sure all workers have appropriate clothing for conditions expected.
Check existing drains and ditches are flowing freely, if necessary spike areas to deal with lying water.
Deal with gale damage as appropriate.
Ensure First Aid kits are stocked and emergency numbers at hand.
Conservatory and greenhouses
Monitor temperatures and humidity levels and ensure boilers and ventilation systems are working adequately.
Ventilate when sunshine and temperatures permit.
Prepare propagation equipment and begin sowing seeds appropriate to the temperature that can be maintained.
Begin sowing appropriate varieties of bedding plants such as antirrhinum, begonia, lobelia, pelargonium and gazania, along with sweet peas and perennials like aquilegias and hollyhocks.
Make indoor sowings of crops required early, such as lettuce, cabbage, peas and cauliflowers but note they will need a temperature around 13degC.
Under cover sowings of broad beans can be made in pots.
Keep an eye open for fungal diseases, especially botrytis, and for pests such as vine weevil in heated greenhouses.
When conditions are too wet or frosty, only attempt those jobs where no or very little damage will result.
Be ready to clear snow from pathways and brush heavy falls from shrubs and hedges before the weight breaks branches.
Continue tidying beds and borders, repairing lawn edges and fixing garden structures.
Look where the interest lies at this time of year and consider the use of vibrant-coloured bark or architectural grasses to draw focus in the future.
Plant new climbers when conditions allow.
Continue to take root cuttings from perennials.
Inspect lawns for lying water and spike if drainage is needed in the short term or after heavy downfalls.
Where water continually collects, carry out remedial work or invest in drainage.
Check existing drains and ditches are flowing freely.
Repair lawn edges.
Keep everyone off grassed areas if the weather turns icy.
Inspect mature trees for winter damage and disease.
Check tree shelters, ties and stakes are providing sufficient protection and support.
Consider the need to shape young trees.
Finalise crop rotation for production of fruit, vegetables and flower in the kitchen garden.
Repair paved paths and the edges of grassed pathways.
Cover ground with polythene where soils need warming for early outdoor sowing/planting.
Sowings of suitable vegetables, including peas, cabbage and cauliflower, may be possible in a warm greenhouse or prop house if early crops are required.
Sow broad beans in pots under cover.
In late January, prepare asparagus beds for this year’s cropping by incorporating plenty of organic matter.
Broad beans also like lots of manure and trenches can be prepared accordingly.
Shallots and garlic can be planted in a sunny, well-drained bed – ideally one manured for a previous crop.
Complete winter pruning of fruit trees, except plums and cherries.
Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries, cutting them right back to 15cm, and sprinkle the ground with a high-potash fertiliser.
Prune gooseberries and redcurrants.
Machinery/tool shed and workshop
Machinery and tools will be dirty at this time of year, so ensure thorough cleaning – with a pressure washer if necessary – before being stowed back in the shed.
Sharpen tools such as shears, secateurs, loppers and hoes.
Service, or organise the servicing of, any equipment required for spring.