Sow hardy ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ or ‘Super Aquadulce’.
Pick the occasional sprig of winter scented shrubs lonicera, sarcococca and daphne and bring them indoors, where they will fill the entire house with their spring-like scents.
Get new garden infrastructure in now. I have put in an archway and a pair of matching obelisks: they provide height and structure and are in place in time for plants to scramble up them.
Cut hazel support poles
I cut down the three hazel coppices on my allotment in rotation, one every couple of years, partly because I don’t want them to annoy the neighbours, but mainly because they make such excellent support poles for climbing plants: sturdy and rustic. Do it now, as they don’t keep so well if they are cut once the sap has started to rise. Any side branches make excellent pea sticks.
Check for frost
Make sure newly planted trees and perennials haven’t been lifted by frost, and firm them gently back into the soil with your boot if they have.
Clean out your water butts: few plants need watering now and we can be fairly sure of more rain to come. Drain, then scrub out with hot water and a stiff brush, or blast them with a power washer if you don’t mind a bit of slime in your hair.
Make a bean trench
A bean trench makes the most of winter kitchen scraps, turning them into summer growth and bounty. Dig a trench at least one spit deep and as long as you wish your bean row to be. Line the bottom with newspaper and water well, then periodically drop in kitchen peelings and rabbit and guinea pig bedding and leavings. By planting time it will be full, and the richest possible soil for greedy beans to sink their roots into.
Winter weather lays bare all my lawn’s shortcomings. Make a note to get onto the lawn during drier spells to push a garden fork straight down into it at intervals of about 12in (30cm), so allowing water to drain away.
If you sowed sweetpeas in autumn, nip out their tips now, or cut them right back to a few leaves if they are drawn up and leggy. Even if you didn’t then all is not lost: sow now. I’m going for old favourite ‘Matucana’ for scent and ‘Prince Edward of York’ for pizzazz.
Ties that bind
Check the ties on young trees for looseness and stakes for wobbles. Some of the wildest winter weather could still be ahead of us.
Take a bough
If you forgot to put out your Christmas tree for recycling, here are a few uses: cut boughs and lay over the crowns of perennials to protect from frost; use the needles as a mulch around acid-loving plants; bundle a few boughs and stow in a corner as a wildlife hotel.
A little care for those pots and baskets of yellowing Christmas bulbs and they could bloom another year. Water and feed them well and plant outside or, if the weather is cold, tend to them on the back step or some other sheltered spot so they die back in their own time, then plant them out.
January is the month for potato buying.