January, It's a Coming, Like It or Not!
January's Garden Tasks
Garden? In January for zones 4-6? It's easy to forget about the gardens, but now is the time to reflect on last season's garden and start planning for spring, not to mention a few things to check on outside. Also with more time spent indoors is a good time to care for those houseplants!
-To clean heavily encrusted clay pots, scrub them with a steel wool pad after they have soaked overnight in a solution consisting of one gallon of water, and one cup each of white vinegar and household beach.
-Some plants are sensitive to the fluorine and chlorine in tap water. Water containers should stand overnight to allow these gases to dissipate before using on plants.
-Wash the dust off of house plant leaves on a regular basis. This allows the leaves to gather light more efficiently and will result in better growth.
-Set the pots of humidity-loving house plants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Pots should sit on the pebbles, not in the water.
-Allow tap water to warm to room temperature before using on houseplants.
-Fluffy, white mealy bugs on house plants are easily killed by touching them with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol.
-Insecticidal soap sprays can be safely applied to most house plants for the control of many insect pests.
-Quarantine new gift plants to be sure they do not harbor any insect pests.
-Amaryllis aftercare: Remove spent flower after blooming. Set the plant in a bright sunny window to allow the leaves to fully develop. Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy. Fertilize occasionally with a general purpose houseplant formulation.
-Gently brush off heavy snows from tree and shrub branches.
-Limbs damaged by ice or snow should be pruned off promptly to prevent bark from tearing.
-Check stored summer bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and gladiolus to be sure they are not rotting or drying out.
-To reduce injury, allow ice to melt naturally from plants. Attempting to remove ice may damage plants further.
-Use sand, bird seed, sawdust or vermiculite to gain traction on icy paths. Avoid salt or ice melters as these may injure plants.
-Make an inventory of the plants in your home landscape. Note their location and past performance. Plan changes on paper now.
-Sow pansy seeds indoors now.
-Avoid foot traffic on frozen lawns as this may injure turf grasses.
-Make a resolution to keep records of your garden this year.
-Store wood ashes in sealed, fireproof containers. Apply a dusting around lilacs, baby's breath, asters, lilies and roses in spring. Do not apply to acid-loving plants. Excess ashes may be composted.
-Check all fruit trees for evidence of rodent injury to bark. Use baits or traps where necessary.
-Cakes of suet hung in trees will attract insect-hunting woodpeckers to your garden.
-Brightly colored paints applied to the handles of tools will make them easier to locate in the garden.
-Seed and nursery catalogs arrive. While reviewing garden catalogs, look for plants with improved insect, disease and drought-tolerance.
-Old Christmas trees can be recycled outdoors as a feeding station for birds. String garlands of peanuts, popcorn, cranberries, fruits and suet through their boughs.
-Christmas tree boughs can be used to mulch garden perennials.
-If you didn't get your bulbs planted before the ground froze, plant them immediately in individual peat pots and place the pots in flats. Set them outside where it is cold and bury the bulbs under thick blankets of leaves. Transplant them into the garden any time weather permits.
-Try sprouting a test sample of left-over seeds before ordering new seeds for spring. (Roll up 10 seeds in a damp paper towel. Keep moist and warm. Check for germination in a week. If fewer than half sprout, order fresh seed.)
-Swap seeds and plant information with your gardening friends.
Smith and Hawken, The Hands On Gardener
Pruning (Clipping with Confidence)
by Robert Kourik
Long considered one of the most daunting tasks in the garden, pruning is first and foremost a simple caretaking craft. And armed with the information in this book plus rudimentary set of tools, it is a skill that any gardener can easily learn. The illustrations are awesome and this book is so simple and practical for gardeners of every level!
"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." ~Andrew Wyeth