As I write this there are about two more weeks until New Year’s Day and it is starting to get cold and snowy in a good portion of the U.S. Advanced gardeners are probably aware, but novices and beginners may not, that gardening is actually a full year’s activity.
January is a perfect time to start planning changes or additions to your garden. Begin to collect your notes, pictures and sketches to help you plan and analyze what you may need to do to keep your garden fresh for the New Year.
Once you have a plan, you can actually start executing it and order plants from seed and nursery catalogs.
Yes, it may be cold, but there are still some things you should do to maintain your garden. For example, check out your ornamental trees and shrubs for scale insects. Other things for your to-do list include:
· Spread antidesiccant to newly planted narrow-leaved or broad-leaved evergreens if a thaw occurs
· Inspect your perennials for frost heaving and cover them with extra mulch if needed.
· Try not to use salt to melt snow because it is toxic to many plants. Instead, use sawdust, sand, or cat litter.
· Inspect your dahlia, canna, and gladiolus bulbs for any rotting and/or drying.
· Stock bird feeders with food throughout the winter.
· Prune storm-damaged branches to prevent tearing of the bark.
· Prune forsythia, pussy willow, quince and other plants for forcing indoors.
Don’t neglect your indoor plants. If you intend to add to your collection during the winter, be certain to wrap them well for the trip from the nursery to your home so that the foliage won’t freeze and tropical plants don’t have to suffer a cold draft.
Due to the change from daylight savings to standard time and the winter season, the days get darker earlier. So it is imperative that you place houseplants near windows where they can get sunlight. Move plants from windows, cover the windows with newspaper or cardboard or close the curtains or blinds on frigid nights to prevent freezing.
Houseplants also need more humidity during this time. Mist them often or place them over a tray of moist pebbles.
Of course, all plants grow more slowly in the winter and that is also true for houseplants. This permits you to increase the time between watering. However, don’t cut back on the amount of water.
Take time to dust your indoor plants. Dust particles can clog the pores of leaves. So clean them when necessary using a damp cloth or a quick shower under the tap. Use water that is room temperature.
Finally, take some extra time to prepare your garden tools for the spring. Sharpen and oil tools, tune-up the power tools including changing the oil and replacing old spark plugs and air filters with new ones.