my january garden chores
HERE WE GO AGAIN: Another garden year begins as seed-catalog season gets going in earnest now that the holidays are past. If you didn’t get to it yet, inventory leftover seeds and even do your germination testing to see what’s still viable. Store keepers in a cool, dry place. A friend stashes his in the fridge, first sealing in zipper bags with the air squeezed out, then placing the bags in a sealed plastic box rather than have strays get lost among the yogurt and mayonnaise.
TOSS THOSE SEEDS more than a few years old and make a list of what you’ll need. Not that any act of self-control stops me from ordering yet another gourd or pumpkin variety, or some oddity I simply must have or perish. My list of favorite sources is in the right-hand sidebar of every page here; more to come in posts soon.
FEEDING BIRDS THIS WINTER? Why not feed them all year-round with a bird-friendly garden? Make the plans now for a habitat garden in the New Year.
MOLE PATROL CONTINUES, in perpetuity: I am still setting out mousetraps under boxes, buckets or cans in the gardens where I see any activity, to rid them from my beds and borders.
KEEP AN EYE OUT for signs of houseplant pests like spider mites, mealybugs and scale insects. If tackled before they get out of hand, nonchemical methods are usually successful: a simple shower, insecticidal soap spray (as directed on label) or with the most tenacious (like mealybugs) sometimes an alcohol swab and Q-tip. Overwatering is the biggest risk to houseplants in winter…go easy.
WAKE UP WELL-RESTED amaryllis bulbs by watering once, placing in a bright spot, and waiting for them to respond. If no dice in a couple of weeks, water again…but don’t repeatedly water an unresponsive bulb or it may rot. It will tell you when it’s ready for action.
TREES & SHRUBS
CONIFER RESEARCH: Take note in your local travels (or in books), of conifers that look good to you, and think about adding a few to the garden come spring. Some of my favorite conifers.
DID YOU CLEAR TURF OR WEEDS from the area right around the trunks of fruit trees and ornamentals to reduce winter damage by rodents? Hardware cloth collars should be in place year-round as well.
ALWAYS BE on the lookout for dead, damaged, diseased wood in trees and shrubs and prune them out as discovered. This is especially important in winter, with its harsher weather, where weaknesses left in place invite tearing and unnecessary extra damage. Remove suckers and water sprouts, too.
NOTE: All based on my Zone 5B Berkshires MA/Hudson Valley NY location; adjust accordingly.