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Gardening Tasks and Projects for January

What to do in the Garden this Month

Because the world has such a multitude of microclimates, it would be impossible for me to create a list of gardening tasks that would cover everyone. Therefore I am writing this monthly list based on general weather patterns and growing conditions for USDA plant hardiness zones 6-8. Most of the information will also be useful for other areas of the world using the previous or upcoming months calendars.

Feed the Birds!

Wild Willy the Garden Gnome

Please! Feed the birds and other small creatures that may not be able to find food due to snow on the ground or other causes. For only a few dollars you can feed an enormous number of birds.

If there is snow on the ground and you don't have a feeder, a simple piece of plywood, a scrap of carpet or even cardboard will create a very good feeding area. It's easy to clean it off turn it over if it happens to get covered by a fresh snowfall. You don't have to be a bird watcher to enjoy the feeling that you get when you know that you've helped out God's critters.

Winter Gardening, Frost, Ice and Snow

We had a few warm days recently, and some of my bulbs got the foolish idea that spring was near. Probably not a good idea since more icy weather is almost sure to come. Add a little compost and a thick layer of mulch to protect the tender new growth. This is an excellent use for the branches of your discarded Christmas tree.

In the event of snow, be sure to shake or brush off the white stuff from the branches of your evergreens and shrubs. The light fluffy snow poses no real threat, but if it should become wet and frozen, the weight dramatically increases. Branches are more brittle when the plants are dormant, and the weight of the snow may snap them off.

Dormant spraying of fruit trees, Cotoneaster, Dogwoods, etc. should be done this month.

It's a good time to prune most of your deciduous trees and shrubs.

Forsythia, Jasmine, Pussy Willow and Quince sprays can be cut and brought into the house now for forcing. The warmth in the home will bring some early bloom to your room.

Fireplace ashes should be saved to use a fertilizer for your Iris and other alkaline soil plants.

If the ground is workable at all (not frozen and not too wet), now is an excellent time to turn the soil. Not only will this expose insect eggs to the effects of winter and hungry birds, the freezing will help to break apart heavy clods of dirt.

Indoor Gardening

Don't forget about caring for your house plants!

Dust on the foliage can clog the leaf pores, so clean them up a little with a damp cloth, or a quick shower under the tap. Always use room temperature water when watering or misting your house plants!

Actively growing house plants will benefit from a half strength shot of liquid house plant fertilizer. On cold nights, it is a good idea to close the curtains or blinds between the window and your house plants. NEVER place your house plants between the curtain and the window!

Make sure that your plants have sufficient humidity, by setting them on a tray filled with moistened, clean pebbles, or by simply setting a cup of water nearby.

You can force Crocus, Hyacinth, Narcissus, and Lily of the Valley bulbs into bloom this month. If you can't have spring yet.... fake it!

Keep a close eye open for insects on your house plants. If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse, be sure to check those plants carefully too.

Gardening Tools and Tips

Extra time this month might well be spent getting the garden tools ready for spring. Sharpen and oil tools such as shovels, shears, mowers and the like. Power tools such as weed eaters and power mowers may benefit from a good tune-up... Change the oil, new spark plug, new air filter. Could the wheelbarrow use a fresh coat of paint?

It's not to early to begin to think of a strategy for new spring plantings. You might want to create a small map of your garden, and use it as a guide for ordering plants and seeds from the catalogs which will be arriving in the mail soon.

Hmmmmm..... And you thought there was nothing to do in the garden this month.....

Please Have a Happy, Safe, and Better New Year!

Midnight Moon over Cedar Hill
Midnight Moon over Cedar Hill

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