One Man and His Plot - January

  • Last updated: 9 January 2023
The winter looks long and stretches out in front of us – but so does the growing season, writes our head of horticulture Chris Collins
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Chris Collins appreciates seeds and scenery in the dark days of January

January is always a strange month after the excesses of the Christmas period and our moods feel can feel as low as the contents of our bank balance. But I have several coping methods for this time of year – and the first is trees.

The sight of a full-grown oak or beech against a winter sky, with its branches silhouetted, is one of nature’s most magnificent gifts and is guaranteed to lift the soul. Walks through our wonderful parks provide plenty of trees to admire and each has their own individual character. In the garden, it’s a good time of year to be thinking about a place to plant a few bareroot whips and create a little tree legacy of your own.

Spring planning

The anticipation of spring soon starts with the arrival of January. There is nothing better than curling up with The Organic Gardening Catalogue and picking next year’s crops. The Heritage Seed Library Seed List also provides me with a wonderful array of free seeds that will give me a lot of pleasure next year. There is no better way to cheer yourself up.

I continue to potter around my allotment too, getting everything tidied and ready for spring. I will clean out my shed and make sure all my tools are washed and oiled. Pots are taken out of storage and cleaned, so I can ensure I’m not carrying over any unwanted fungal spores or sleeping snails into spring. There are also running repairs on the polytunnel.

Protecting winter wildlife

It’s also important to remember the other creatures that we share our outdoor spaces with. Birdlife will be helped with food and water, but it’s also a good time to sure-up any habitat piles that you may have created.

If you’re turning your compost, watch out for such beauties as slow worms, which I’m glad to say are abundant on my allotment. It's a tough period for our wildlife, especially in cities so it’s always a good idea to give them a helping hand.

Don’t let the dark days get you down - and happy gardening!

Chris Collins