Welcome to Lee’s gardening advice for January written by local resident and keen gardener, Lee Stevenson (aka An English Gardener in Çalış).

Ok, I know its not officially spring yet but the weather we have been enjoying recently has allowed me to get outside and cut the grass to avoid it looking like a scene from Tenko.

Growing and preparing

It’s a good time to start growing seeds and preparing your gardens for the season ahead.

I intend to sow my hot chillies and selected varieties of tomatoes in early January. A longer season for chillies means more fruit.

Other edibles that can be sown now include:

  • Broad beans – one of the few plants that can handle the cold weather 
  • Brussels sprouts – providing you have a space in your garden that you can leave for roughly nine months to grow these beauties
  • Kohlrabi – mine are now young plants ready for planting out
  • Leeks – may be better to buy as young plants which are available at any of the local markets 
  • Onions – I prefer to buy the small shallot sized bulbs that are in most local supermarkets and grow these on
  • Peas 
  • Turnips and winter salad leaves such as rocket, chard or mustard leaves.
How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – Spring into Action
My kohlrabi seedlings. Photo by Lee Stevenson

Flowers that can be sown from seed now include:

  • Cornflowers – I recently found out these are also known as Bachelors buttons
  • Calendula
  • Larkspur
  • Nasturtium – it’s surprising that the edible flowers on this plant aren’t used more
  • Sweet peas
  • Primroses

It’s also time for spring flowering bulbs to brighten your borders. Examples are:

  • Daffodils
  • Crocus
  • Tulips
  • Hyacinth

Left Overs

Poinsettias – not just for Christmas

If you were lucky (or unlucky some might say) enough to receive a Poinsettia this year you might want to try growing it on in your garden. There’s a 50/50 chance you will succeed depending on how the plant was cared for in the shop it was purchased from. They need bright but filtered light away from strong sun and draughts – under an evergreen fruit tree would be a good spot.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – Spring into Action
Poinsettias planted in the shade of a tree. My kohlrabi seedlings. Photo by Lee Stevenson

They can survive a minimum temperature of 14 degrees so protect with a plastic bag or a plastic bottle that has had the top cut off if your expecting a frost. Water them sparingly and, if planting outside, cut off roughly a third of the plant. When flowering, create humidity with water spray to extend the flowering time.


How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – Spring into Action
Amaryllis – a colorful addition to the garden. Photo Credit: National Gardening Association.

Another popular seasonal gift is the amaryllis. As a general rule, the larger the bulb the more flower spikes it should produce. Once yours has finished flowering and the foliage has died off, store the bulb somewhere dry – out of the sun – and look to plant again next October in fresh soil for December flowering.

Re-cycle your Christmas tree

If you had a Christmas tree this year that had a root ball, try re-planting outside or in a large pot. If you’re planting it outside it’s best to dig a square hole. This is true for all trees to be planted outside, as trees have lazy roots and are not good at growing around corners. When the roots hit the 90-degree angle of a square hole, rather than snaking around to create a spiral, they spread out of the planting hole into the surrounding soil. In the end your tree will grow stronger and faster.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – Spring into Action
Plant trees in square holes to encourage faster and stronger growth. Photo Credit: Intelligent Living

Pruning, planting and feeding

Its also a good time for pruning fruit trees such as apples and pears (not apricots or plums).

This time of year is good for planting (square holes remember) bare-rooted fruit trees and bushes ( those that have the soil shaken from their roots after they’re dug up). 

Use this wetter weather as an opportunity to top dress your soil with rotted garden compost or manure.

If any of you have sobas and burn mostly wood, the leftover cold ash is great to use on the garden as a fertilizer, but please make sure its cold first. Not only does it contain lime & potassium, it provides many of the trace elements that plants need to thrive. Either lightly scatter or mix with any compost you are using.

Grow your own potatoes and garlic

Its a good time to chit (allow to go to seed) your own potatoes even though they’re currently so cheap. You really can’t beat fresh potatoes. Just choose any that you haven’t used – or like the taste of and fancy growing – and place them in a cool dry place on an old egg box. Once they have eyes (small shoots) place them on soil.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – Spring into Action
Place potatoes in an egg box until they have small shoots. My kohlrabi seedlings. Photo by Lee Stevenson

Potatoes are great for growing in pots or old compost bags and as soon as the potato has about an inch of growth simply cover the growth with soil. Keep adding peat until the plant has reached the top of the pot/bag – or grown as big as you require – and leave until the foliage either flowers or dies off.

Gently dig them up if grown in the ground (or empty the pot/bag) for fresh potatoes,

Another easy to grow soil-based plant that can be sown now is garlic. Choose a largish bulb with healthy looking cloves then simply remove the cloves, place in holes and lightly cover, In around nine months you will have your own fresh garlic.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice – keep your garden surviving and thriving in August
Garlic grown in a pot. Photo Credit: Quickcrop

Happy growing.

Do you have a question about gardening?

Please share your experiences with us and ask any questions you have on gardening. Gardening in a hot climate can present you with many challenges and these articles are here to help you.

If there is something you would particularly like advice on or to know about, we also want to hear from you.

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An English Gardener in Çalış

Featured photograph courtesy of brian-kolb.com