There’s a grim sense of inevitability dominating the start of 2021, with another lockdown now across the UK. With travel and human contact drastically down, there’s once again the need for people to use their gardens to seek solace. Unlike during 2020 however, this lockdown is in one of the coldest months of the year with very little daylight. So how do you spend more time in the garden at one of the least appealing points in the year?
Here’s a handful of tips to get the most from your outdoor space during the tough weeks ahead, both in preparation for the rest of the year and as straight-up leisure. If you plan on spending time in an allotment, please ensure you research the rules that govern social distancing and access to it.
Last month we spoke about the things to plant in your garden in December, and January is rife with options too. Always remember to avoid planting during a frost, but you can make a start on rose bushes this month, as long as you’ve got a spot that has consistent light (they need at least six to eight hours of sun a day). If you’re not up for waiting, buy Snowdrops that are already in flower, so your garden has a ready-made colony complete.
If you can use indoor spaces, then chillies, aubergines and basil can be prepped for your kitchen or sweet peas, geraniums and dahlias are all flowers you can plant now. Just ensure you check up on the germination periods and temperatures for each, as they will vary.
Consider creating a heated or covered area
There’s no escaping the cold at this time of year, so you need to counteract it. If you are planning on spending more time outside, then a garden heater could keep you warm. On a particularly still evening, this will enable you to make the most of the outside space without worrying about the cold. Continue to stay heated by drinking warm drinks and keep wrapped up in a few layers.
It might also seem strange, but there’s nothing to stop you cranking up the barbecue in winter; as long as weather conditions permit. Jacket potatoes alongside the traditional grilled classics work well. Also, consider utilising your Gazebo by closing up the walls, either with planks of wood if on a budget or glass if you are contemplating a more robust year-round option. You might even bag a cheap one in a sale if you don’t already own one.
Continue to do your housekeeping
There are a lot of jobs you can be getting on with at this time of year. It’s a good idea to attend to weeding now, which will make the job much easier later in the year. You can also check for rotting stems in any of your perennials, removing any and adding them to your compost.
It’s a good idea to use this month to plot the year ahead. Think about which parts of the garden you enjoyed, and which could do with freshening up. You can make a schedule, so you know what jobs to do at what point in the year and make any equipment or seed orders, so you’re fully stocked.
If you’ve taken time to make your garden hardy via the steps above, make this plan in it. The colder climes will seem less worrying if you fill your mind with future positivity - something everyone can benefit from during this challenging period.
Bring the Garden Indoors
Finally, you can incorporate some of your indoor space with plants which can live in the garden during the warmer months. It’s not just seed germination you can use your indoor spaces for, as houseplants can also double up as garden additions later in the year. Is it time to consider adding a few new ones inside before you reposition them outdoors later in the year?
If you are planning on switching their environments, be mindful of exposing them too quickly to different conditions when you do make the switch. Houseplants can be scorched if given too much sunlight after they’ve adjusted to the shade, or damaged by wind and rain during callous conditions.