Tree planting – Continues to head the list of important gardening jobs for January.
A wide planting hole insures successful planting with trees. No amendment is necessary, just stake trees for four months. Small trees work well in foundation plantings. (Ground bark mulch is used to amend clay soils when planting container grown trees.)
Winter Watering – Keep in mind that plants, especially newly set plants, need water during winter months. A cold, dry wind is very damaging to plants as it removes moisture from the soil and the plant tissues. The only way to know when a plant needs water is by the actual condition of the soil in which it is growing. When in doubt, scrape off a few inches of the topsoil and water it if it is dry. Mulches, drip irrigation, and soaker hoses help ease the task of watering.
Check bulbs in storage – Often dahlia tubers and gladiolus corns are attacked by rot in storage; throw out any with rot.
Mulch strawberry beds – For winter protection, use wheat straw or pine needles. Pull the mulch back and blooms appear and fertilize.
Tree wound paints are virtually useless in sealing pruning cuts. The effects are mostly cosmetic. If you feel better painting a cut, by all means do it. When pruning large limbs at the trunk make the cut outside of the bark collar (a ring at the point of branch attachment). All trees can be pruned in the dormant season.
Spray roses with lime-sulfur this month to control insects and disease.
Fertilize spring flower bulbs when 1″ of growth is seen above ground.
Set garden plans down on paper. As you stroll the yard, note what needs to be trimmed or moved.
Give old gardening catalogs to church daycare or kindergarten classes. They are of great use for Easter and Spring artworks.
Population of overwintering insects can be reduced by turning soil and exposing the slumbering plant eaters to he freezing nights.
Test old seed by placing 10 seeds on a moist paper towel. Roll up the towel, put in a ziplock bag, and keep warm. Check in a week and see what percent has germinated.
Wood ash left over from cozy fires can be used as a soil amendment on the lawn and garden. This ash can be sprinkled on bulb beds, garden plots, and lawn. *Use only on non-acid loving plants.
Send soil sample to NCDA to avoid spring rush.
Keep compost pile turned and watered.
Contact your extension agent to see what winter gardening programs are scheduled.
Please feed and water the birds during cold weather. Birds are the gardener’s friend.
Use up that old Christmas tree and mantle greenery. Prop tree in a corner and decorate with popcorn and cranberry garlands, leftover fruits, holiday fruitcake, or bread. The animals will love the sheltered dining atmosphere. Cut boughs and needles can insulate perennial and bulb beds against severe cold. Put the tree stump in the firewood pile.
On a warm day, prepare a spot in the vegetable garden for early vegetables. Soil may be too wet to work come planting time.
Houseplants – the four major causes of houseplant deaths during the winter months are over-fertilizing, over-watering, under-watering, and improper light. DO NOT fertilize houseplants in the wintertime; let your plants go into a dormant period, a period of reduced growth, so that they will be ready for vigorous growth in the spring months. For supplemental lighting – use a “shop light” fitted with one cool white and one warm white bulb.
The following houseplants adapt well to warm indoor conditions: Jade Plant, Australian Umbrella Tree, Pothos, Wax Plant, Crown of Thorns, and Kalanchoe.