Gardener's World expert Alys Fowler: What to do in January...

In the garden... indoors and under glass

  • Wrap up all your outdoor pots together with fleece or bubble wrap to protect against frost and keep in a sheltered area of the garden.
  • Bring in frost-tender pot plants. A conservatory or porch is ideal. Reduce watering, but don't let the compost dry out, and feed over the winter.
Keep your birdfeeder topped up and put out fresh water, says Alys Fowler

Feed the birds: Keep your birdfeeder topped up and put out fresh water, says Alys Fowler

  • Orchids need plenty of indirect light and a little humidity. Fill a shallow tray with pebbles, place the pot on top, then water so the pot does not sit in water.
  • Christmas azaleas require similar conditions to orchids, with slightly more water.
  • Shake heavy snow off evergreen plants as the extra weight can cause branches to snap.
  • In freezing temperatures, plants can suffer from drought if the available soil water is frozen, especially in pots. Water early in the day with cold (never warm) water to conteract the problem.
  • If your cold frame contents get frosted, cover it with a blanket and spray the plants inside with cold water so that they can defrost slowly.
  • Don't walk on frosty lawns, or you'll break the brittle grass stems and be left with mushy grass foot prints for the rest of spring.
  • Continue to feed the birds and make sure there is fresh water available.
  • Float a football or plastic bottle in ponds to stop them freezing over. This air hole will allow noxious gases to escape and save the fish.

In the fruit and vegetable garden

  • Towards the end of the month, sow tomatoes - such as Tigerella, Shirley Ferline and the cherry type Apero - indoors in a heated propagator for a long growing season.
  • Chillies can be treated in much the same way. They germinate around 21°C and can take longer to appear, so be patient and don't overwater.


    If you bought a very small Christmas tree, chop up the branches and make your own mulch

  • Sow early summer cauliflowers such as the 'Snowball' or 'Mayflower' under heat (20-25°C) in modules or seed trays, harden off outside in a cold frame and plant within 6 weeks of sowing.
  • Continue to plant out garlic - such as 'Solent Wight', which is good for spring planting.
  • If the ground is workable, continue to plant rhubarb sets. Plant at least 90cm/3 feet apart.
  • Force established rhubarb for an early crop by covering the dormant crown with either dry draw or leaves and cover with a thick cardboard box, bucket or purpose-made clay rhubarb pot.
  • Continue to prune apples and pears.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now