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Gardener's Diary

January


In association with the Royal Horticultural Society

The Royal Horticultural Society

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK's leading gardening charity dedicated to advancing horticulture and promoting good gardening.

Their goal is to help people share a passion for plants, to encourage excellence in horticulture and inspire all those with an interest in gardening.

In this section on Laterlife they share their expertise to provide your Jobs for the Month - making sure that your garden is ready for the season ahead.

Find out more about how to become a member of the RHS

Jobs to do in January

Often the coldest month

Top 10 jobs this month

January might be the middle of winter but as the days lengthen the garden starts to grow. Now is a great time to plan for the coming gardening year and to order seeds and plants. Enjoy the fresh air, on dry sunny days, and check your winter protection, stakes, ties and supports are still working after any severe weather. Also put out food for birds and leave some garden areas uncut, a little longer, to provide shelter for wildlife in your garden.

 

  • Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch
  • Clean pots and greenhouses ready for spring
  • Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already
  • Disperse worm casts in lawns
  • Inspect stored tubers of Dahlia, Begonia and Canna for rots or drying out
  • Prune apple and pear trees
  • Start forcing rhubarb
  • Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season
  • Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds
  • Make a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect against peach leaf curl


Crop rotation

The principle of crop rotation is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the vegetable plot each year. This helps to reduce a build-up of crop-specific pest and disease problems and it organises groups of crops according to their cultivation needs.

 

Quick facts

  • Suitable for All but very small vegetable gardens
  • Timing Plan before the growing season, when ordering seed
  • Difficulty Easy

Suitable for...

Crop rotation is used in allotment plots and kitchen gardens for most annual vegetable crops. Perennial vegetables (such as rhubarb and asparagus) do not fit into the rotation. Certain annual crops such as cucurbits (courgettespumpkinssquashesmarrows and cucumbers), French and runner beanssalads (endivelettuce and chicory) and sweetcorncan be grown wherever convenient, merely avoiding growing them too often in the same place.

Plan your crop rotation before the growing season starts, and mark out the plots on the ground so you know where to plant each crop.

Benefits of crop rotation

Soil fertility: Different crops have different nutrient requirements. Changing crops annually reduces the chance of particular soil deficiencies developing as the balance of nutrients removed from the soil tends to even out over time.

Weed control: Some crops, like potatoes and squashes, with dense foliage or large leaves, suppress weeds, thus reducing maintenance and weed problems in following crops.

Pest and disease control: Soil pests and diseases tend to attack specific plant families over and over again. By rotating crops between sites the pests tend to decline in the period when their host plants are absent which helps reduce build-up of damaging populations of spores, eggs and pests. Common diseases that can be helped avoided by rotation include clubroot in brassicas and onion white rot.

How to do crop rotation

Divide your vegetable garden or allotment into sections of equal size (depending on how much of each crop you want to grow), plus an extra section for perennial crops, such as rhubarb and asparagus. Group your crops as below:

Move each section of the plot a step forward every year so that, for example, brassicas follow legumes, onions and roots, legumes, onions and roots follow potatoes and potatoes follow brassicas. Here is a traditional three year rotation plan where potatoes and brassicas are important crops:

Year one
Section one: Potatoes
Section two: Legumes, onions and roots
Section three: Brassicas

Year two
Section one: Legumes, onions and roots
Section two: Brassicas
Section three: Potatoes

Year three
Section one: Brassicas
Section two: Potatoes
Section three: Legumes, onions and roots

The Royal Horticultural Society

Want more Gardening tips?
Why not view the Royal Horticultural Society's website.



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