Gardening in January: Some Easy Tips to Keep you Thinking Towards Spring!

For me, winter has been moving quite quickly. Come March, I may be feeling a bit differently, but for now I am trying to think positive. It can be hard to keep active during the winter and thinking about your yard in the spring will help keep you motivated. Here are some easy tips to keep you occupied and your gardens happy!

  • Check your stored bulbs for mold and rotting. Immediately remove any rotting or moldy bulbs and replace the material they were being stored in.  Remember not to store bulbs in paper, and keep in a cool, dry and dark place.

    Bulbs should be firm and dry in storage, if you notice any soft spots or mold discard immediately.
  • Use calcium chloride instead of sodium chloride on your walks and drive. It is safer for lawns, trees and beds. If you can, use sand, it is the safest of all!
  • Sterilize your garden tools. Clean anything you use around plants. Use 1 prt bleach to 9 prts water. Danger-Never mix bleach with other cleaning agents!
  • Paint your tools’ handles. Painting the wooden handles of your tools will help preserve their lifespan. Go ahead and choose your favorite color…

    Paint the handles of your garden tools to prolong their use. Choose your favorite color, or use red, an easy color to see in the landscape.
  • On a nice day make a map of your garden. Use accurate measurements and draw in trees and shrubs. Make copies and stick in a binder. Draw out your spring plans and keep notes on the back for future reference and budgeting.
  • Shop! This time of year we offer great deals and specials not seen in the spring. Stock up on sale items to use later on in the warmth. Make sure to watch new online coupons and ads for special deals and Saturday specials.
  • Look at your landscape. Are you happy with your winter privacy? Make note of bare spots in your yard and plant evergreens in the spring for cover next year.
  • Clean your bird feeders! A dirty feeder can harbor bacteria and disease that can wipe out neighborhood populations. Clean once a month with a one part bleach to nine parts hot water solution. Use a stiff brush and rubber gloves to protect yourself. Never use commercial cleaning products, unless designed for this use. Rinse well and let completely dry before filling.

    Scoot Bird Feeder Cleaner is an alternative to bleach for tough jobs, and can clean wood. Acrylic brush bristles won't scratch bird feeder surfaces.
  • Remove seed shells and other debris from the base of your bird feeders.
  • Check your perennials for frost heaving. If you see they have been pushed out of the ground, add a layer of mulch. Heuchuras and ornamental grasses are often affected by this.
  • Clean you salty/dirty clay pots. Use vinegar to remove salts. Sterilize in a 1/9 prt bleach/water solution. Use steel wool if they are hard to clean.
  • Check houseplants for insects, esp if they have been outside. Treat with a systemic product such as Bonide Insect Control to avoid an infestation.

    If you notice insects on you houseplants, treat them immediately! If you can move them away from other plants. Remove as many pests you can see with rubbing alcohol, and spray with an insecticide. Treat infected and exposed plants with a systemic granule.
  • Spray your snow shovels with a non-stick cooking spray for an easy glide and snow removal.
  • If you notice your warm weather bulbs start to peek due to a few warm days, cover them with a layer of mulch to avoid damage.
  • Remove gift plants from foil and plastic pots. Use clay pots with good drainage to keep these plants alive.
  • Prune Japanese maples while they are still dormant.
  • Remember not to prune spring-flowering shrubs until after they have flowered.

    Pruning spring flowering trees and shrubs will remove thier winter buds. Wait until just after these plants have flowered to trim them up.
  • Get ready to start your seeds. Plan out you vegetable garden and get supplies ready to go!
  • Clean your birdbaths and statuary. Use the same bleach methods as mentioned above.
  • Check your bushes and trees for deer and rabbit damage.  Esp watch burning bushes for rabbit chewing and arborvitaes for deer damage. If you notice chewing, use a product such as liquid fence and protect/wrap with burlap.

    Liquid Fence and Repels-All help keep hungry animals at bay. For the best results spray both the burlap and plant itself. Make sure to treat the bases of plants where they meet the ground where shorter animals tend to dine.
  • Keep Poinsettias in the light as long as they are looking healthy. Move to the basement until May or June when they start losing their leaves. Keep them very dry here.
  • Don’t over-water your houseplants. The lack of sunshine will cause them to dry out more slowly in the winter.
  • Inspect birdhouses for rot, leaks and damage. Repair and replace as needed.
  • Save coal ashes from your fires to mix in with the heavy soils of your gardens.
  • Remove heavy snow from evergreen bushes that have been bent to the ground to prevent minor damage and breaking.
  • As your Amaryllis leaves begin to yellow, gradually slow down watering.  Place in a cool dark place (such as your basement). Do not re-pot, keep in a small pot. Keep dormant until early summer and set in a bright indirect light, and resume watering once growth has begun.

    After your amaryllis has flowered cut off the flower stem. Continue to take care of the leaves as they are drawing energy into the bulb. When the leaves turn yellow cut them off and let the bulb go dormant in a cool dark area. Keep the bulbs in a small pot, and never re-pot unless the pot has broken.

I hope these  tips have helped keep your mind on the and the warm spring ahead. Until then, there is plenty to keep us occupied! Happy Gardening!

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