male sharpening garden pruners

Winter To-do list

When temperatures begin to drop and inclement weather takes hold, winter can be a disheartening time of year for gardeners. January, however, is the perfect month to start planning our gardens for the approaching season. A small amount of planning can go a long way. Take the time to sketch out your garden including your trees, shrubs and other perennials. Jot down plants you want to grow and note their size and lighting requirements. The weather may keep us indoors, but it is the perfect time to find inspiration and learn.

Here are a few things you could be doing this winter:

  • Use this time to prepare the garden tools for spring. Sharpen your pruners, shovels, and hoes as well as clean them thoroughly to prevent any disease from previous use.
  • Review last year’s garden journal and start a new one for this year
  • Consider purchasing a large calendar dedicated for your garden. This would enable you to keep track of your fertilizing and spraying schedule and everything else that you’ve done in the garden. It also will allow you to plan for things that need to be done at certain times.
  • Draw a map of your garden and make copies of it. Garden beds and raised beds stay in the same place year after year, but the crops rotate each year. To plan this year’s garden, take a clean copy of the map and fill it in. If you don’t have a garden journal, Use the back of the plan to record notes. Keep each year’s plan in a three-ring binder for easy cross-checking of varieties, rotations, etc. Also to note what did well and what did not.
  • Feed the birds and provide them with some unfrozen water.
  • Check houseplants plants for indoor pests. Depending on the weather and our personal temperature preferences, our homes have varied humidity levels which can affect how frequently our houseplants will need to be watered. With shorter days and less natural light, most houseplants’ growth will slow down and consume less water than other times of the year. However, the furnaces in our homes can also quickly dry out the air causing houseplant soil to dry quicker. Use your finger to check the moisture level of the soil and water when the first 1-2” dries at the surface.  Keep an eye out for pests and treat if needed. Pro Tip: The use of a systemic pest control product like Bonide Systemic Houseplant Insect Control proactively keeps houseplant pests at bay.
  • If you are planting with seed this spring, now is a great time to start browsing seed catalog websites. Take advantage of first of season availability by submitting orders now. If you have seed left over from the previous season you can check the viability of the seed through a germination test. Place about 10 seeds between moist paper towels, cover with a thin layer of soil, and allow to germinate. If less than 6 seeds germinate (60%), fresh seed should be purchased instead.

Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year; for gardening begins in January with a dream

– Jacqueline Neuse
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