Out with the old and in with the new. It’s the perfect time to make life-changing resolutions. If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to eat more healthily and exercise more, forget about joining an expensive gym to shed those excess Christmas pounds, why not get down and dirty with a spot of digging and hoeing. A few hours a week of polytunnel gardening can help you to keep fit, healthy and ultimately HAPPY! Remember, the colder it is the more calories you burn, so don’t let a bit of frost and snow put you off!
Gardening in January
It’s time to prepare for growing in the year ahead. Dust and scrub your pots, trays and start to re-label your pots in preparation for the exciting growing season in 2017. See our handy month by month Polytunnel Growing Guides for hints, tips and ideas.
Harvest and Sow
If you have grown your own veggies through the winter, it is over the next few months that the greatest benefits of homegrown crops in a Polytunnel will be reaped. Vegetables such as brussel sprouts, cabbages and parsnips can still be harvested.
To give you a head start in the spring, sow early crops: –
- Sweet peas
Plant in seed trays in the polytunnel, or on a windowsill in light and airy Conditions.
As a general rule chitting (sprouting) seed potatoes should be started around late January an amazing and encouraging thought, but early varieties will be planted in March! Put them in a light and cool place with the end showing the most ‘buds’ uppermost – old egg boxes are ideal. Once the shoots start to sprout, pinch out all but two or three and just imagine the flavour of freshly dug new potatoes! Place the seed potatoes in the hollows of empty egg boxes, ‘eye’ upwards or simply place the potatoes upright in a shallow box, in a cool (but frost-free), light place.
Check that the seeds you intend to sow are in date and stored in a cool, dry, mouse-free container.
- Remove yellowing leaves from your winter brassicas as they are no use to the plant and may conceal nasty pests and diseases
- Ventilate the Polytunnel on mild sunny days will help to reduce fungal infections.
- Remove any snow from the Polytunnel to prevent damage and allow good light penetration. Ensure heaters are working properly and protect pots and taps from cheeky Jack Frost by wrapping insulation around them. (Horticultural Bubble wrap is ideal)
- Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding and then use as a mulch on the garden.
- Put out food and water for the hungry birds – check daily and clean all feeders regularly.
- Clean and sharpen your tools and, if necessary, replace tools.
Start to think about your show-stopping hanging baskets for this year. Order your Fuchsia plants , Geraniums and Lobelia now in preparation for the exciting, busy spring period…that’s really not too far away!
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK