December 30, 2019
Wishing you Happy Gardening During 2020!
January is not an easy month to love. When did you ever hear someone say, “January is my favourite month”? Christmas is over, the days are short, the nights long and the weather can be pretty grim. Even the garden birds are miserable. So, we have a choice. We can be grumpy and hide under the duvet or we can wrap up warm and get outdoors. Snowdrops will be in flower this month and a walk through swathes of pure white will help lift the spirits. Alternatively, there are always jobs to do in the garden.
Did you make any new year resolutions? Have you broken them yet? 😊
Perhaps you are determined that 2020 is when you will lose those extra pounds and increase your level of fitness. If so, then what better way than through gardening! Raking fallen leaves and weeds for 30 minutes or digging the veg plot requires as much energy as going for a 2km run. Even pruning and tidying plants are as good for you as walking. Three hours of gardening is as effective as one hour’s intensive work out in the gym. So, never feel guilty about all those hours spent in the garden. It’s cheaper than a gym membership and you’ll have something wonderful to show for it.
“There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalogues.”
~Hal Borland (1900–1978)
Jobs for January
- Chillies are slow to germinate and need a long growing period so it’s a good idea to sow a batch in January. They can take 2-3 weeks to germinate and another 3-4 before being large enough to prick out. So, patience is needed but the results will be hotly worth it!
- Autumn planted onions will welcome a high potash feed this month.
- Hellebore flowers will be emerging so give them a helping hand by cutting away any large, old leaves.
- To produce the tender sweet shoots of forced rhubarb now is the time to cover the crown. If you don’t have one of those splendid terracotta forcing pots then no matter, a large upturned bucket will do the job. Once you’ve cropped the first shoots give the rhubarb crown a nitrogen-based feed to help it recover.
- Continue planting bare-root trees and shrubs. If the ground is frozen then heel them in or plant temporarily in a pot until the ground thaws. Once planted, remember to water often.
- Tidy up the shed, sweep shelves and wash pots and seed trays. It’ll be time for spring sowing before you know it! Now is also the time to check through your seed tin and order anything missing.
- To prevent disease, remove all fallen leaves from beneath roses.
- Prune apple and pear trees, removing any criss-cross branches and any dead wood.
Climate change means people are expecting more innovation and higher sustainability standards. In horticulture, Dobies is at the forefront of this transformation.
Undisturbed, peat bogs absorb and store a huge amount of carbon. It’s also a rich and vital habitat for plants. But peat bog mass is being extracted 60 times faster than it lays down… which is clearly unsustainable.
Here at Dobies, we’ve switched to a 100% peat-free compost on our nursery and we’ve achieved this 10 years ahead of government guidelines. We’re also working hard with our growing partners to remove peat from the plants they supply.
If you want to grow more sustainably then order from our range of peat-free Wool Compost. A totally natural and eco-friendly product this compost will give your plants all they need, and you will be doing your bit towards protecting our planet.
In addition to going peat-free, Dobies stopped using neonicotinoids back in 2017, we are net contributors of electricity, are recycling whenever possible and will soon be introducing a carbon offset programme.
We know we are not perfect, but we’ve taken big steps and now we’ve started, we won’t be turning back. We’ll be updating our progress here, so check back soon!
From Plot to Plate
In December we looked at Brussels sprouts and for January another marmite veg is available to harvest – spinach. Along with chard, beetroot and quinoa, spinach belongs to the amaranth family. Spring and summer bring us sweet tasting baby leaves but come January spinach has developed into something more robust and earthy.
Although hardy, the crown will need protection from harsh winter weather, and this can be provided by a cloche, fleece or straw. Harvest the leaves on a cut-n-come-again basis. Although they will store in the fridge for a few days like all other veg, spinach is best eaten fresh.
Give your spinach a good wash by swishing it around in a bowl of cold water, then leave to drain in a colander. Most recipes will involve blanching the leaves in boiling water for 6 to 10 minutes and plunging into cold water to cool. The leaves can then be drained, squeezed to remove any remaining water and cooked in accordance with the recipe. This can be as simple as chopping the spinach and mixing it with scrambled egg or combining with potatoes, onions and spices to form Saag Aloo.
The Spanish like to stir fry blanched and chopped spinach with onions, garlic, chickpeas and spices such as paprika and cayenne pepper. Add seasoning, a splash of sherry vinegar and olive oil and you’re done. Yum!
Spinach goes well with:
Potatoes Onion Garlic Lemon Egg Cream
Crème Fraiche Pinenuts Cheese Bacon Chorizo Ham
Chilli Mustard Nutmeg Paprika Breadcrumbs
If you fancy growing spinach with a difference, then new to the Dobies 2020 range is Tree Spinach. Easy to grow, tree spinach has bright magenta growing tips and can grow up to 2m tall. The young leaves can be enjoyed in salad and larger ones used as suggested above. Available to order now, the plug plants will be delivered in May.
Great news, the Dobies Gardening Catalogue 2020 is available now! Perfect for helping you plan your garden for spring and summer this catalogue has 104 pages packed with goodies to make your garden look amazing.
Organic Veg Seed – 27 new varieties for 2020, all produced without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. They are better for the soil and the environment and perfect for pollinators and insects.
Non-organic Veg Seed – seeds to start sowing now for harvesting in summer.
Veg Plants – a full A to Z of plants including the superior grafted range.
Potatoes – wide range of seed potatoes from first earlies through to maincrops and salad types.
Flower plants – a huge range including summer bedding, shrubs and perennials
Summer Bulbs – delightful dahlias, lovely lilies, cute cannas and remarkable Ranunculus. We’ve got them all.
Fruit trees and plants – including the new rhubarb, Fultons Strawberry Surprise, voted the best tasting rhubarb the RHS Wisley trials.
Garden Equipment – from greenhouses to compost and cloches, we’ve got all the equipment you need, plus some!
Order a print copy or browse the online version here.
Feed the Birds
Encourage birds to your garden and they’ll both entertain and help with pest control in the months ahead. Aphids, caterpillars, slugs and snails all feature on the menu for our garden birds but, at this time of year, they need our help.
The wider the variety of food you put out then the wider variety of birds will visit your garden. Robins love mealworms whilst tits and finches will relish sunflower hearts. Dried fruit will be welcomed by blackbirds and windfall apples will keep the thrushes going. Woodpeckers and nuthatches love peanuts and they all need a good fresh supply of water.
Bird food can go off so it’s best to put out small amounts and refill regularly. Keep the food fresh in sealed containers and away from any possible rodent reach. Dirty feeders can lead to disease so take them down from time to time and give them a scrub with weak disinfectant, followed by a thorough rinse.
Feeders need to be far enough away from cover so that cats can’t lurk and pounce but close enough for the birds to seek shelter should a hungry sparrow hawk pay a visit.
Winter, when other food is scarce, is the most important time to feed garden birds but the RSPB does recommend all-year-round feeding. Sitting on eggs, raising youngsters and then moulting is tough and help is always appreciated!
The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch takes place from 25th to 27th January 2020 and registration is now open.
Offer of the Month
Mystery Indoor Plant – Just £10!
Once you’ve taken down the Christmas tree and decorations, your living room can look a little bare in January. Fill that space with a mystery indoor plant from our existing range (worth up to £27.99) for just £10!
Great value, great looking and great for health and wellbeing. Note: image for illustration purpose only.
Treat yourself or a great gift – buy your mystery houseplant here.