January NZ gardening advice

January NZ gardening advice.

For NZ gardening advice this month with some long hot days, the flower gardens are blooming, and fruit ripening. The Christmas rush has passed and it’s time to relax a bit and enjoy some time with family and friends. While being able to reap some of the rewards of your work in the garden.

Tasks For January


The garden has been quietly growing weeds unless you’ve been diligently removing them. The weeds may be seeding so it’s time to either spray them or dig them out being careful not to let the seeds land on the ground or you’re in for another crop of weeds! Also dead heading flowering plants needs to be done to prolong the flowering period. If you leave the flower heads on the plant will put it’s energy into ripening a seed head. Watering – The moisture content of your garden soil does need to be monitored. The simplest way to check your soil moisture is to get a trowel or spade and dig down 150mm to 300mm ( six inches to a foot ), and see how moist the soil looks. There are moisture measuring probes available at good hardware stores. Check with your local council website to see if there’s any watering restrictions before watering your garden. If it looks dry then water it. If your local council allows watering with a sprinkler it’s best to have a timer set to turn off after set set period. So you don’t suddenly remember you’ve left it running too long. It’s worth considering installing an automatic watering system, with a timer that turns on and off at predetermined times. This means there’s one less chore to remember to do. Simple watering systems can be installed by amateurs, but most of the handyman systems I’ve seen have been a waste of time and money, because there not done properly. I prefer to water in the evening, so the water has time to soak in over night. If you water during the heat of the day you will lose a lot of water to evaporation. Mulching is a good idea to cover any bare soil, to reduce weeds and conserve moisture. Pull out all the weeds, many of them will be going to seed, so your weed problem can quickly get away on you. If you’ve got children it can be a good time to encourage them to learn about gardening, by helping you or having their own little patch of plants that they plant and tend. Ants – Can be a problem especially in Northern districts. There are ant bait products that can be placed near where you see the ants. They generally work by attracting the ants en mass, so it can appear to be worse until they take the bait back to the nest and have a mass effect. It’s worth considering putting the baits under the building where practical to stop them before they invade the building.

Food Gardening

Vegetables –

Keep planting a succession of vegetables so you have a continuous supply at a rate that suits your consumption. When sowing or planting seeds or seedlings imagine the size or the mature plant and allow that much space between each plant. Slug and snail – Don’t forget to control slugs and snails when you plant young seedling or they can disappear over night. Slug baits laid close to the seedlings are the easiest control method. But you need to be careful since some baits are poisonous to birds, and other animals, so may need covering. Or buy a bait that is non toxic to birds and animals. Regular hoeing will kill most young weed seedlings before they get a hold and become more difficult to remove. Remove any plants that are bolting to seed, unless you’re wanting to collect your own seed, for future planting. Bearing in mind not all plant varieties come true from seed so seedling may differ from the parents. Fertilise your plants a little and often with slow release fertilisers, and avoid direct contact with the fertiliser on the plant as some fertilisers will burn or rot plants when in direct contact. I generally prefer organic fertilisers such as animal manures that increase earth worm populations and healthy soil micro organisms. Keep an eye out for tree roots in your vege garden if you have trees nearby as they compete for water and nutrients. So chop them off when you see them.

Veges to plant or sow –

Beans, beetroot, brocoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chicory, celery, Chinese cabbage, cress, cucumber, endive, kohl rabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions, persnip, radish, rhubarb, salsify, silver beet, swedes, sweet corn, turnip.

Herbs –

Plant and/or sow chervil, chives, dill, mint, parsley, rocket, sweet basil, tarragon, etc. Coriander requires continuous sowing, because it goes to seed quickly.

Fruit Trees

Pip and Stone Fruit –

Some early varieties of plum, peach and cherry are maturing now. Try to protect your fruit from the birds with netting if practical. If you’ve started a spray program you will need to keep spraying regularly as the weather permits for it to be effective. Citrus – You should be able to see the next seasons crop forming. Give the trees an application of fertiliser and keep the soils moist. Feijoa – You should be able to see young fruit forming as the flower parts fall off. Give the tree some fertiliser and keep the soil moist. Luckily Fejoas can produce good fruit without needing to be sprayed. Berry fruits – You will need to protect any fruit from the birds with netting. Look for ripe fruit to pick before they become over ripe. Once the harvest is over prune out the old wood and tie the new growth to a support. Keep the soil moist. Raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, and loganberries – The main harvest is over, so prune out old wood and tie new growth to a support, and fertilise. Keep the soil moist. Strawberries – Will usually continue to produce until the end of the month. They need ongoing protection from birds, slugs and snails. The bird protection usually consists of netting held in place by a frame. Keep a continuous supply of water and fertiliser available in the soil.

Green Houses/Glass houses –

Daily watering will be needed for vegetables. Good ventilation is also important, to avoid overheating and too much humidity. Shading may need to be considered for sunny positions. Continue controlling any snails and slugs. Tie up climbing plants, such as tomatoes and cucumbers to a support system. Remove any bolting plants and decaying matter and weeds. Also ensure a continuous supply of water and nutrients. Keep a planting a succession of seedlings as space becomes available.

Pot and Container Grown Plants

Watering may be required daily and including some diluted liquid fertiliser is beneficial to most plants. Move indoor plants away from direct sunlight that can get intensified through the glass and cause leaf burning where you end up with brown dead patches on the leaves. Repot plants that have finished flowering such as orchids. Control any insect or diseases. Remove dead leaves and dust with a damp cloth or spray.

Advice for the Ornamental Garden


Remove any dead flower heads unless it’s a once only flowering rose and you want the hips for decoration or jam. If you’ve started a spray program it’s best to continue spraying regularly as the weather permits. Check the soil remains moist, and water as needed. Keep the soil moist. Remove weeds, while they’re small.

Sow seeds of: ageratum, alyssum, calceolaria, canytuft, calendula, cineraria, cornflower, cyclmen, forget-me-not, french marigold,larkspur, linaria, lupin, nasturtium, nemisia, pansy, iceland poppy, primula, scabosia, stock, sweet pea, verbena, viola, wallflower.

Plant seedlings of: alyssum, aquilegia, canterbury bells, carnations, cornflower, cosmos, cineraria, delphinium, pansies, polyanthus, poppy, gypsophila, hollyhock, stock, and viola .

Trees and Shrubs jobs for January

Your hedges may need trimming after the spring growth, before the new growth gets too long and hard.

Lawn jobs for January

NZ gardening advice. Mow regularly at least fortnightly, and don’t cut too low. The grass should be between 20 to 25 mm after you’ve cut it. It’s a good time now to control lawn weeds now before they get a chance to spread.You can either spot spray or brush on herbicide or dig them out.

Compost jobs for January

NZ gardening advice. Turn your compost heaps so organic matter gets evenly decomposed. Continue building heaps and when they consist of predominantly unrecognisable matter they are ready to be spread around bare soil as a mulch, or dug into the soil. Make new compost heaps by incorporating dead leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps with a sprinkling of lime and animal manure etc.

NZ gardening advice

Enjoy the ripening summer stones fruits.

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