Unwins Seeds

January 2017 Newsletter

So a very happy new year to you. The team at Unwins hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and new year break. 

For us we have been busy preparing for the new gardening season. Hopefully you have now received your new 2017 catalogue? If not you can look through our digital version. You can ask for a physical copy too. 

If you would like to see our exciting highlights of the new Unwins catalogue please read on to below the ‘Jobs to do in January’ section. 

Our highlights include new varieties, ideas for the brightest and cheeriest gardens and lovely new flower mixes too like amazing Zinnia Raspberry Lemonade Mix (main picture above). 

Now is a great time to start planning your garden projects for 2017. Especially if you can now get to your favourite armchair. We recommend an Unwins catalogue, a cup of tea and a pack of chocolate biscuits before you plan your pots, your containers, your borders, your hanging baskets as well as the vegetable patch. 

January is also a great month to take on jobs in the garden that will help to tackle the additional calories you may have consumed over the holidays and if you promised you would start doing some healthy eating, don’t forget our sprouting seeds range for January.


Jobs to do in January

Check your old seed packet datesNone

We recommend emptying your drawers of all the half-used seed packets and the seed you got free. Check the dates, recognise you are probably never going to sow it and re-gift to someone who might.

Now you can start planning in earnest the seed you will sow & grow in 2017. Whether it’s flowers, vegetables, herbs or wonderful wildflowers we have something for everything.

Any seed you want to keep, make sure it’s kept cool and in a mouse safe box.


Seed you can start growing now

In a heated greenhouse or indoors there are a number of seed varieties that you can start now. We recommend either a propagator or an electric propagator and we recommend having some knowledge of growing from seed if you are going to start sowing in January only because keeping a consistent temperature is important. 

The best flowers to start now in indoors are Antirrhinum, Begonia, Geranium, Dianthus / Pinks, Lobelia, Sweet Peas and Pansies

With vegetables, there’s not really any you need to plant in January apart from onions however you can start planting cabbages, parsnips and leeks in February so you might want to place your order now. 

If you have your potatoes you can start “chitting” which is another way to say “start sprouting” your potatoes. Just stand them on end in an egg box and place in a bright cool frost-free place.


Spring clean for a new year

Now’s the time to wash your greenhouse & shelves, tools, pots, seed trays, water butts (pictured) capillary matting & bird tables. We use Citrox because it’s a powerful disinfectant that uses extracts of citrus fruit to destroy a wide range of bacterial & fungal diseases. Because it does not harm plants we also use it to wash cuttings, bulbs & corms prior to planting and to date it has not seemed to have any detrimental effect on ladybirds in our gardens. The 500ml concentrate pack makes 10 litres of disinfectant solution and you can use it in your water butt too with no harm to the plants you water. 

It’s a good time to empty and clean your water butts. It’s also a good time to buy a water butt as they are often on sale at this time of year. 

Don’t forget you can also send your tools off to be sharpened right now.


Prune, protect & feed

If you have ornamental grasses you’ve enjoyed over winter, now’s the time to cut them back to about 2in (5cm) from the ground. You can also prune Wisteria & Roses to just above the 2nd or 3rd bud of long stems. Also cut out any dead or crossing branches which will spoil your 2017 display. 

Some of your pansy flowers (pictured) will be wilting around now; if you leave them the old flower heads can set seed, so please remove the heads and the plants will produce more flowers in their place rather than produce seeds- making your flower displays last longer. 

You can prune pear and apple trees in January but for now leave cherries, apricots and plums

We’d also recommend pruning redcurrant, blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes to maintain a healthy plant structure. You should have already cut back your raspberry plants, but if not, now’s the time. 

Leave herbaceous (non woody perennial plants) and hollow-stemmed plants unpruned until early spring if you can, as they can provide homes for overwintering insects. However if the weather is mild and dry, you can lift and divide herbaceous perennials such as hellebore, saxifrage and many euphorbias and geraniums. Just make sure you refresh the soil by digging in good quality compost or manure as it will increase plant stocks and revive tired or poorly flowering clumps. 

If you have a veg patch protect broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers from pigeons by using cloches, fleece or netting. Also don’t forget to pull any yellow leaves from your plants as they can harbour both pests and diseases. 

Did you get the berries you were expecting this year? If you have any poorly nourished plants they can lack the strong young growth needed to produce flowers and berries. Use a spring application of Growmore (100g/m sq) as a top dressing.  Also potassium can help ripen wood and encouraging berries so get some in and apply sulphate of potash (15g/m sq) in early spring when growth begins.


Caring for wildlife

You need to top up bird baths with fresh water daily and melt ice with warm water on frosty days. If you can put a water source at ground level it’s helpful for other animals too. 

Put up bird boxes if you have a sheltered area on a shed, wall or tree trunk. If you have a pet that you brush and it has not been treated for fleas, birds can use their hair in new nests. Horse hair around (4in) 10cm long is also great for birds creating nests. 

Check any existing bird boxes to see if they are occupied. If not currently occupied it’s good practice to clean them between now and February prior to any new nesting taking place. 

Go gently when turning your compost heap as toads and other such animals are drawn to the warmth. 

To prepare for freezing weather small birds need to feed repeatedly. Often trying to find food equal to 30% of their body weight daily. Keep bird feeders topped up to attract birds to your garden who will repay you by eating garden pests.


What to harvest or eat now

If you have your own vegetable patch you should be able to harvest swede, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, sprouting broccoli, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips and leeks. Even if you don’t grow them yourself, these vegetables are in season at your local fruit & veg supplier right now so we highly recommend them for a hearty stew.


Protect your plants

Move your containers to a sheltered spot away from the wind & rain, if it’s squally. Move to near a wall that gets the sun will help protect the plants and root systems from frost. 

Strong autumn winds can move tree stakes & tree ties. Check and re-tie if necessary. Check your climbing plants too and see if they are secure. Tall Brussels sprouts can take a battering from the wind, so if you have any don’t forget to check them and possibly firm the soil around the stems. 

Put non-diseased autumnal leaf fall to work as a mulch on your borders and bedding. However if you are adding any more than a light layer of leaves, make sure you shred them first otherwise a dense blanket of leaves can lock in too much moisture. 

Wrap fleece around tender plants such as ferns, banana plants & fig trees. 

If you have a patio peach tree or nectarine try to move them under cover for the winter to reduce the opportunity for peach leaf curl. For outdoor trees you can cover the branches with a polythene shelter to protect them from the heavy rains.


What you can plant & force now

It’s a new year so let’s start with some fruit and salad. 

Sow some herbs using a propagator. Varieties such as coriander, chervil & parsley. You could try digging up some of your mint and re-pot to force some early shoots. Use an electric propagator again to try sorrel, chives & lovage which need some underfloor heating. Bare root herbaceous perennials (pictured) can go in now.

If you have strawberry plants in pots, bring them under cover to try and force an earlier crop. 

Cover rhubarb with a large clean pot to force early and very tender stems. 

Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia can be sown as long as the ground is not frozen. 

Plant fruit trees now; bare-root trees are perfect for you to get into the ground now so long as the ground is not frozen. Their root will develop in the soil over the winter which will support a wealth of fruiting stems when the weather improves in spring. 

Similarly plant bare-root perennials now to get the roots established now for strong plants and fantastic flower displays for you to enjoy each year. 

Dig holes deep and wide enough to house the roots of your plants and add some Organic Extra for a boost to your roots for impressive flower and fruit displays. 


Enjoy the enticing fragrance of winter-flowering shrubs this January. On a clear, crisp winter’s day there are few things more beguiling than a shrub in full-flower, especially when they give out a lovely fragrance that carries on the air around you.

Plant bare-rooted or containerised winter-flowering shrubs now. Just check the ground isn’t frozen, put on some warming clothes and enjoy the lovely fresh air. 

Here are three varieties that produce colourful and scented flowers through the winter. Plant once and you can enjoy these flowers each and every year, they just keep coming back. 

Daphne mezereum

Scented flowers to lift the dullest days. Reveals beautiful cerise flowers until April. Grow in a flower bed or container positioned near the door so you can take in the beautiful fragrance as you walk outside into the garden. 

Hamamelis mollis

Tall shrub that puts out lots of fragrant powder-puff flowers in winter; charming petals have maximum sweet and spicy scent. Flowers in winter and with charming autumn leaf colour, grow in your garden for a handsome show all year round. 

Jasminum nudiflorum

Jasminum nudiflorum is a shrub perfect for covering a wall, or to scramble down banks, spilling over low walls. Recognised by the RHS for outstanding performance in the garden plant this for evergreen leaves and charming scented flowers in January.


Pests & Diseases

If you have already autumn sown your sweet peas keep an eye out for aphids (pictured). Also if they are in a cold frame watch out for mice and slugs and treat accordingly with something like Grazers

Pansies are often affected by downy mildew and black spot at this time of year. Remove infected leaves or completely remove badly affected plants and put in the bin, not the compost heap.

Check stored bulbs for signs of rot and remove affected bulbs.

Most diseases will overwinter in the soil and on plant debris so clear plant debris but do watch out for the heads of bulbs starting to sprout. Antirrhinum (snap dragon) rust, Delphinium black blotch and Rose Black Spot will lay dormant and re-infect plants the following year.

Clean old Hellebore leaves to highlight new foliage and flowers to reduce the chance of Hellebore spot. 

If you have a veg plot try to ensure good crop rotation to prevent pests and diseases building up in the soil. 



New Unwins January catalogue out now

Read our January catalogue, landing on your doorstep from now, and get ideas to transform your garden into a collage of colour, brightening up your outdoor space with new and exciting varieties of fantastic flowers. 

Here are some of our highlights including exciting new varieties and solutions for brightening up your home as well as your garden.


Bright, brilliant and beautiful – Zinnia Raspberry Lemonade

Everything about Zinnia Raspberry Lemonade transports you to a warmer, sunnier place. The name, the bright flowers and complementary colours all contribute to giving you that anticipation of warm and welcoming summer days. Available from Unwins as seeds or as healthy plug plants itching to get growing.


Sense the summer heat – introducing NEW fiery Zinnia Yellow Flame

Celebrate the Year of the Zinnia with new variety Yellow Flame, brightening up your summer garden and raising your spirits.  Looks great in the garden and equally as effective cut for vases to bring some red-hot colour and flair into your home.



Colour co-ordinate hanging-baskets

Save time and effort planning colour schemes for your outdoor space with our garden-ready range of colour-coordinated hanging baskets. Simply choose from pastels or dramatic colours and we have a collection to suit. 

NEW Tangerine Twist (pictured)– collection of orange tones, cool blues and creams

NEW Summer Sunshine Mix – bright sun-intense yellow flowers amid whites and soft pink

NEW Perfect Harmony- Veils of soft creams and whites tumble over light pinks and silvers.


Plush and plentiful pollen-free lilies

Enjoy the colour and scent of this outstanding new collection of lilies expertly hand-picked for you. Enjoy bold and dramatic flowers, without setting off those pesky allergies or staining clothes. Includes varieties like lily Elodie (pictured); so beautiful growing in flower beds or cut for vases indoors.



Amazing air-purifying plants

Our exciting new range of indoor house plants absorb pollutants and toxic chemical compounds from everyday products around your house. The natural filters of evergreen houseplants peace lily, mother in law’s tongue and aloe vera help to remove 5 key pollutants as recognised by NASA’s Clean Air Study.  



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