10 jobs to start the year off right

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Photo credit: Ade Sellars

We are starting a new year with high hopes for the growing season ahead. Although the garden perhaps looking worse for wear, the delicate unfurling of a lone snowdrop is an indication that spring is coming. Yes, we still have the prospect of enduring a few more winter months, but in the words of the late George Harrison, “Everything must pass.”

So, while Jack Frost is doing his worst, take the time to order your seeds and work out your garden plans for 2022. But don’t be too cozy, as there is still a lot of work to be done in the garden that will keep you busy. will occupy this month.

1. Recycle your Christmas tree

Don’t be too quick to throw your Christmas tree. If you can shred it, the chips will make great compost for ericaceous plants, like camellias and blueberries. Try to use the branches as plant supports for peas and beans.

2. Sow chillies and peppers

Photo credit: Ade Sellars

Photo credit: Ade Sellars

Chillies and peppers require a long growing season. So if you have a warm, bright place, like a heated greenhouse or a warm, sunny window sill, you can get started now.

Fill a 3-inch pot or seed bin with compost. Tamp the soil to create a firm surface, then sow several seeds, spaced 1 cm. Cover lightly with compost, water and place in a warm place. Seeds can take 8 to 21 days to germinate.

After the seedlings have grown their true leaves (these follow the leaves of the seeds and resemble the foliage of the mature plant), plant the seedlings individually in 9cm pots and water. Place the pot in a warm, bright location, such as a heated greenhouse or veranda to grow. Remember to keep the soil moist.

3. Sow microgreens

Mustard and watercress are a quick and easy crop to grow. Fill a pot or container with moist compost, then sow finely on top. Then place the container in a warm place, where germination should occur quickly. Once you see the sprouts sprouting, transfer the container to a warm, sunny kitchen windowsill where they can be easily reached while preparing a meal.

4. Rhubarb

Photo credit: Ade Sellars

Photo credit: Ade Sellars

For an early harvest of rhubarb, place rhubarb tongs or a large (upside down) container over the nascent rhubarb. By keeping the crown in the dark, you force the stems to grow quickly as they seek out the light. After eight weeks, the stems should be 8 to 12 inches long, taste sweet and be ready to eat.

5. Harvest the vegetables

Continue to harvest the vegetables from your vegetable plot. Remove any yellowed or fallen Brassica leaves, as they may be hiding pests. Once the beds are empty, turn the soil over and add a thick layer of well-rotted organic matter or compost. Winter weather will help break down the mulch, releasing its valuable nutrients into the soil. The material will also help improve the structure of the soil.

6. Potatoes

Photo credit: Ade Sellars

Photo credit: Ade Sellars

If you haven’t ordered your seed potatoes, order now. The sooner they arrive, the sooner you can start shitting.

Chitting accelerates the aging process of a tuber. When you come and plant your tubers in mid-March, they will have developed long tendrils, giving them a head start. To crack the seed potatoes, open them with the eyes facing up. Empty egg cartons are ideal media.

Then place them in a warm, bright place, like a kitchen windowsill or greenhouse. Check them regularly and in six weeks your tubers will be ready for planting.

7. Store fruits and vegetables

Any fruit or vegetables currently in storage should be checked regularly to ensure that they have not spoiled. Turn them over and remove any decaying or damaged products. Make sure they don’t touch each other, as this will promote good air circulation around them.

8. Plant care

Photo credit: Ade Sellars

Photo credit: Ade Sellars

Before the hellebores open their flowers, cut the leaves. Not only will this showcase their blooms, the old foliage can look unappealing and potentially have hellebore spots.

Winter pansies can now struggle to be their best and will need a helping hand to keep them from going to seed. Prune regularly, removing faded flowers.

9. Winter wildlife

Make sure bird feeders are regularly refilled and water supplies are cool and do not freeze. If you have a frozen fish pond, avoid breaking the ice as this can shock or even kill the fish. Instead, try melting the ice gently with hot water. Don’t worry about harming the fish as they tend to stay at the bottom of the pond during the winter.

10. Indoor plants

With festive plants such as poinsettias, amaryllis and early flowering hyacinths now surpassing their best, now is the perfect time to introduce a new line of houseplants to your home. Whether it’s a trendy succulent or a fancy orchid for the bathroom, there are endless options for the indoor grower. Could this be the year you bring the outdoors?

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