Okay okay I know I do this five minutes a day thing, but that’s because I get a kick out of it and I’m telling you honestly, that most of what I do in the garden in January and February centres around tidying away errant leaves and bringing order to my potting bench and garden shed. There’s very little actual, down-on-your-knees stuff, unless the day is exceptionally mild and I can weed without fear of my fingers turning blue.
The truth is that too much messing about in the garden can do more harm than good at this time of year, particularly if you trample all over your soil (compaction) or sow too many seeds (sure fire way to depressive anxiety), so here are a few productive but harmless things you can do this month, without even going outside.
1. Order some colour
If you’ve not yet thought carefully about how you’re going to ’style’ your garden this year, then this is a great time to sit down with the internet and make some lists of bedding plants you’d like to fill gaps in with, or seeds you’d like to sow in order to CREATE gap-fillers, (like the nicotiana in this picture) or plants for containers or hanging baskets on your terrace. Stick to one or two plants and buy a tray-full to create a generous, cohesive look. You can find my shopping list here. Same thing if you love to sow from seed; stick to one or two plants and grow lots of them. It looks better and is easier to deal with. Swear.
2. Have a little houseplant clinic
Check moisture levels and water if necessary (your central heating is mighty drying you know) and also wipe down any shiny leaves gently, (see pic above with LOTS of dust!) with a damp cloth. If you notice growth, then perhaps put the merest suggestion of some food into the water. Check to see if any of your plants’ roots are congested (just tip the thing out of its pot and have a look). If you see lots of roots running frantically round and round the edge of the compost, it’s probably time to go a size up.
3. Plan your chill-out zones
Remember last summer when you wished that table and chair was over there, to catch the evening sun, or when you could never quite enjoy sitting in your favourite spot because it was just too darn hot and you didn’t have a parasol? Now is the time to make sure this is dealt with darlings. I’m going to say it again, because I don’t think it goes in sometimes, but LOUNGING ABOUT WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY HAVING PARTIES AND PICNICS OR READING GREAT BOOKS OR RUNNING ABOUT HYSTERICALLY SPRAYING EACH-OTHER WITH THE HOSE IS WHAT YOUR GARDEN IS ACTUALLY FOR! The ‘gardening’ (in my humble opinion) is the thing that makes all of that stuff possible - it is not the END, but the means to an end. So invest in those beautiful cushions, or that lovely parasol. Think about how you can put the table where you actually need it to be, and do the necessary to make that happen.