#15greenmins – January

You can do anything for 15 minutes … even gardening. Here are the jobs I’m  focusing on this month, and the January #15greenmins checklist that you can print out.

 In the flower garden

Weed herbaceous borders and remove soggy leaves/stems
Keep on top of those weeds; if you turn a blind eye now, you’ll regret it later. Don’t tidy up too much as the dead stuff acts as a winter duvet to your plants and a refuge for overwintering wildlife, but remove any soggy material to prevent rotting.


Prune hardy trees and evergreen hedges
Now is a good time to cut these back, while the sap is less active and before the birds start nesting.

Cut back summer-flowering shrubs and climbers
Use sharp secateurs to cut back Buddleia, summer-flowering Clematis, Wisteria and rose bushes before spring growth appears. Bare stems make the job much easier. As well as reshaping, remember to remove any damaged or diseased wood and crossing or rubbing stems.

Apply a winter mulch
Add a thick mulch (6 inches) of organic material under shrubs, roses and hedges; cover the crowns of cut-down perennials to protect them from heavy frosts and snow.

A barrowful of homemade compost - great for spring mulching

Plant a cheery winter pot
Add winter colour to the garden with a pot bursting with, for example, winter-flowering heathers, violas, Heuchera, Skimmia and Cyclamen.

Cyclamen winter pots

Tidy Hellebores
Cut old leaves off Hellebores to reveal buds and flowers.


Start sowing bedding plants
Sow slow-germinating bedding plants now, indoors or in a heated greenhouse (e.g. Impatiens, Salvia).

Protect non-hardy plants from frost and snow
Wrap up pots and cover non-hardy plants with fleece if the temperature looks set to dip below zero.

Check overwintering plants and tubers
Check the health of overwintering plants in greenhouses or cold frames and make sure they don’t dry out. Check stored Dahlia tubers and remove any signs of mould.

In the vegetable garden

Prepare vegetable beds for spring sowings
Remove weeds and dig in some well-rotted compost. Repair raised beds. If you want to warm the soil in preparation for early spring sowings, cover beds with a plastic sheet.

Sow vegetable seeds
Sow vegetable seeds (e.g. chillis, aubergines) to germinate indoors or in a heated greenhouse. See packets for sowing times.

Buy seed potatoes
Chit seed potatoes on a window sill ready for spring planting.

Chitted potatoes, ready to plant

In the fruit garden

Prune and winter wash fruit trees and bushes
Prune and winter wash apple, crab apple and pear trees while they are dormant, between leaf fall and bud burst, to maintain an open structure and remove any diseased or damaged branches. It is also the ideal month to prune grape vines and blueberry and gooseberry bushes etc.

Fruit tree prunings

Cut autumn-fruiting raspberry canes
Cut autumn-fruiting raspberry canes to the ground to stimulate new canes. You can also cut the tips of summer-fruiting raspberry canes now, just above a bud, if they have grown above your supports.

Plant bare-root raspberry and blackberry canes
Raspberries and blackberries are best planted as bare-root canes any time between late October and early March. Try to avoid planting if the ground is frozen or waterlogged though.


Force rhubarb
Place a large pot or dustbin over rhubarb crowns, excluding the light completely, for an early harvest of sweet tender rhubarb stems.

Other jobs

Get organised
Clean/tidy pots, organise your shed and order supplies ready for Spring. Decide what you’re going to grow in 2020; bin out-of-date seed packets and order new ones.

Vegetable seed packets

Ventilate greenhouses and cold frames
Open up greenhouses and cold frames on dry days to prevent build up of mildew and other nasties.

Remove debris from ponds
Remove fallen leaves and other floating debris to prevent it from decomposing in your pond and sinking to the bottom, where it’s more difficult to remove.

Clear snow from paths and branches
When the snow and ice arrive, try to avoid walking on frozen lawns. Use sand, bird seed or sawdust on icy paths; avoid using salt, as it can damage plants. Clear heavy snow from branches if it is likely to damage/break them.


Feed the birds
Keep your bird tables and feeders topped up. Your birds really need your help at this time of year. Make sure they have access to clean, fresh water too.

Blue tit on nuts

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