Lots of folks ask us what is the most boring garden month or what do you guys do in January? We’d agree that for getting outside and gardening, January can be a boring month. As for ourselves, we are very busy planning for spring for both our store and website but we can recommend some things you can do too. January is the quietest month for gardening in the north and for most of the rest of the country, but you can spice it up and be productive, as it is the best time to assess your gardens, make plans for expansion, add new species, remove those no longer desired and more. So, curl up on a cold winter’s day and make your plans. While not all catalogs are out, as many like us send in early March, browse through the ones you have received and keep the ones you like something in and discard the ones you don’t while you wait for the rest to arrive. It is also a good time to make a list of chores, a shopping list and an outline of your plan of attack for spring. So, really there are many things you can do both inside and outside, depending on the day, to get a big head start on all your spring and summer garden chores.
Here are a few suggestions:
Outside on Perfect Winter Days (If you’re not out skiing, fishing, sledding or enjoying the outdoors).
If you find that perfect winter day, you know, the kind of day with not-too-deep snow, bright and sunny, get out and prune. Fruit trees, like older apple and pear trees, benefit from a cleanup, even in winter.
Feed The Birds and Other Animals, get out some feeders or if you don’t have any buy some feed/seed and clear an area and throw some out for them. Those beautiful birds and other creatures that don’t hibernate and grace your summer gardens are hungry!!
Take a Walk around your property and look for dead, damaged, diseased wood in trees and shrubs and prune them as you find them. This is especially important in winter, with its harsher weather, where weaknesses left in place will invite tearing and do unnecessary extra damage.
Do A Mole Patrol – get out and survey smaller garden areas for moles. Those creatures are out doing dandy work at this time of year! Moles produce two types of runways (tunnels): sub-surface runways and deep runways. While you can’t do anything in winter about the deeper runways you can take some steps to stop the sub-surface ones in smaller gardens . These are the ones that cause unsightly surface appearances. We take a natural route by finding the active tunnels in smaller garden areas. (you can do this by collapsing the tunnel with a stick and then waiting a day or two to see if it is rebuilt) Once you find an active tunnel, dig a small hole and place mothballs in strategic places along the tunnel. It is a time consuming job and yes, the mole will tunnel in a different direction but if you are diligent for a few weeks, you can direct them lower to the deeper runways or direct them out of the garden completely. We don’t think you’ll want to try the larger areas during winter; you will have to use other methods of eradication in spring.
Look for beetle egg cases on bare viburnum twigs now through April. Remove the cases by pruning the affected wood which will help to reduce larvae and beetle issues. The cases are usually on the underside of young branches. This will give you a head start with this issue, but in late April-June, check again and wipe off with a warm soapy rag any you may have missed.
Indoors on Winter Days
Inventory any seeds you may have collected from your gardens to see which you want to keep and those that are viable. Try doing a couple of tests for germination by planting a few of those seeds in a sunny window. Throw those not viable and keep the others in a cool, dry place with no humidity or temperature variations to plant in spring.
Start a Journal outlining ideas for this year’s gardens. Get an inexpensive journal, notebook or similar item and start making a list of what you want to accomplish this year. Write down the names of sources and items you wish to purchase. Draw out a garden plan to show where everything will be placed (you don’t have to be an artist). Make some calls to those sources you wish to purchase from with any questions you may have.
Check drawers, boxes and anywhere else you have stored old seeds or thrown half-used packets etc. that may be more than a few years old. Write down a list of those you wish to get again and throw the rest. Veggie and Herb seeds packets have ‘use by’ dates so you can discard those if the date has gone by. For wildflower seeds purchased from us, we guarantee our seed as long as they have been stored properly for quite a few years. So, even if you don’t remember when you bought them, sow the left over seed if it still looks viable and see what happens.
Check your houseplants for signs of pests like spider mites, mealy bugs and other insects. If tackled before they get out of control, non-chemical methods are usually successful: a simple shower with insecticidal soap spray or with the more tenacious (like mealy bugs) sometimes an alcohol swab and Q-tip. Sometimes just washing the leaves with a soapy water does the trick. Overwatering is the biggest no-no to houseplants during winter…so take it easy. Start some pots of flowers like begonias, violets, cyclamen or other house plants or try your hand at a Bonsai. It’s always fun to add to your collection. Trim or re-pot existing plants that need it.
That’s a good start and as we get closer to February we’ll be listing lots of new items for you to browse. We’ve already put out 9 new Wildflower Discount Combos and don’t forget our Perennial Plants and Spring Bulbs are on Advance Sale at 50% off! Think spring and stay warm!