January Checklist

  • Cut up your Christmas tree and use the branches as a mulch over perennials and around shrubs.
  • Feed the birds regularly and see that they have water. Birds like suet, fruit, nuts, and bread crumbs as well as bird seed. They won’t even complain if the food is stale.
  • Move the most tender plants away from windows on cold nights.
  • Your live Christmas tree should be moved to a cool location for no more than a week before planting.
  • Get caught up on your garden reading list.
  • Inspect stored bulbs and discard those that are rotting.
  • Salt on sidewalks and driveways can injure nearby lawns and plants. Try sawdust or sand instead. Cat litter works well if you haven’t obtained the less expensive materials.
  • Make plans for your spring and summer gardens.
  • Check out the new offerings from the mail order companies. Make sure plants are hardy for this area before ordering.
  • Mealy bugs on your house plants can be killed by touching them with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
  • Economical “sticky stakes” for trapping whiteflies and aphids can be made by cutting bright-yellow cardboard or plastic, such as recycled detergent bottles or margarine tubs, into strips. Coat with petroleum jelly. Insert into pots or hang near problem areas.
  • Inspect perennial beds for heaved plants during warm periods. Mulch around heaved plants. Don’t push them into the soil! Dig and replant them in the spring.
  • To keep pests at bay, red and green cabbages, greens and root crops can be grown under horticultural fleece for the entire season without detriment to the plants. Row cover fabric will need to be replaced for plants that stand in the garden as long as cabbages when it becomes torn or brittle. Row cover fabric will also keep neighborhood cats off the newly planted garden.
  • Start forcing shrubs indoors.
  • Limit traffic over dormant lawns. Grass is easily broken now, and the crown of the plant may be severely damaged or killed.
  • Check germination of leftover seeds.
  • As you look through seed catalogs, choose disease-resistant varieties. They make gardening easier and they reduce the expense of pesticides.
  • One way to file seeds as they come in the mail is to use index card tabs to divide a cardboard file box into categories for each vegetable or flower. As new seeds arrive, place them alphabetically into the proper slot
    — tomatoes, carrots, etc. Drop notes into the file to remind yourself what is on order to avoid duplication.
  • Don’t fertilize house plants during the winter.
  • Remove bagworms from evergreens.
  • Consider using ferns in shady areas of your home landscape this year.
  • How energy efficient is your landscape? Do you have evergreen trees or shrubs blocking a window where the sun’s warmth would be welcome now? Consider replacing them with a deciduous plant that would let sun in during the winter but cast cooling shade in the summer.
  • When dusting the furniture, consider washing the dust from your houseplants.
  • Paint the handles of garden tools red or orange. This will preserve the wood and make the tools easier to locate in the garden.
  • Have the lawn mower serviced.
  • Perform a soil test. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 being the point at which soil has a neutral reaction. The majority of plants, including vegetables, grow in soils which have a slightly acid reaction, with
    a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. One exception is the ericaceous plants which include azaleas, rhododendrons, andromedas, and blueberries. They require a more acid soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5.
  • Wood ashes will raise soil pH. Use them only if the pH is less than 7.0 based on a soil test. The safe rate of wood ash application to lawn or gardens is 15 to 20 lbs. per 1000 square feet per year. Remember, a little wood ash is beneficial, but a lot is not.
  • The flower for January is the carnation.
  • Have a super month and New Year!

Adapted from “Seeds of Hope… Harvest of Pride!” – Gardener’s Checklist, www.bright.net/~gardens/index.html