January is a time of good intentions and fresh beginnings. When it comes to gardening, there are few better New Year’s resolutions than committing to good garden hygiene.
Not the most glamourous of subjects, we know. But invest a little time now to get your shed, greenhouse, coldframe or polytunnel clean and ready for the new growing season. It will pay you dividends in spring.
Here are our top recommendations of how to get the year off to a good start:
If you only have 10 minutes…
Clear up discarded compost or plant debris. Decaying plant material, spilt compost and damp moss provide homes for pests to overwinter in. Sciarid fly and red spider mite are of particular concern, lying in wait ready to attack your seedlings. Cleaning pots and trays is essential. If you don’t have the time to do them all at once, make sure you clean them in hot soapy water before reusing.
If have 30 minutes, add in a good scrub of your bird feeders as well. Remove any food lying under the feeder. Saliva and droppings from wild birds spread diseases so it’s important to do this every few weeks.
If you have an hour…
Greenhouse and coldframe glass often has smudges or algae built up through the growing season. Clean the glass/plastic well to allow the weak winter sun to get through.
And if you want to spend a full morning outside...
Why not work up a sweat after the excesses of Christmas by taking on a full top-to-bottom spring clean.
Start with the glass. Then disinfect benches, pots and brickwork using an organic disinfectant such as Citrox. Sweep up spilt compost and seal any bagged compost to stop sciarid fly getting in. Check overwintering fuscias and geraniums for whitefly. If you spot any, carefully remove the plants and shake off the whitefly outside. Clean and sharpen your tools.
Good organic growing is about doing everything possible to cultivate a healthy growing area. Keeping tools, sheds and glass houses clean and tidy will give you the best foundation to start. And you’ll look forward to days spent seed sowing in a clean organised space.
Happy New Year - here’s to a productive organic 2020!