Gardening ABCs for January
from the Johnson County Master Gardener Association

Apply a complete, balanced, liquid fertilizer to winter annuals each time you water and to houseplants about once a month.

Avoid becoming overrun by annoying dandelion and clover populations this spring by hitting them early with a broad-leaf weed killer on sunny days, when the temperatures are in the 60’s or above. Pendulum and Estate are two herbicides that are effective on broadleaf and narrowleaf weeds.

Begin selecting dormant asparagus roots those are at least two years old. Asparagus will require several growing seasons for optimum production. Choose part of your garden that will allow asparagus to remain undisturbed but which has good, rich soil.

Begin transplants of flowers and vegetables that you intend to set out after the danger of freezing temperatures has past. Greenhouses or coldframes are best for transplants but neither needs to be elaborate. Old windows or simple, clear plastic sheets, supported by a PVC frame will suffice. But seed germination requires several hours more light than plants normally get in the winter. So if your seeds fail to sprout, insufficient light will usually be the cause.

Begin tilling that portion of the garden where you’ve planted Elbon (cereal) rye, and where you’ll begin planting next month. Plant onions and English peas late in the month.

Beware of over-wintering, giant bark aphids in dormant trees. They cause a sticky residue to form under the tree but can be controlled with a general-purpose insecticide. As with all horticultural sprays, read and follow the directions carefully.

Control bagworms on junipers and other shrubs by destroying the bags (or pouches) now, and scale insects in euonymus, hollies, camellias, photinias, fruit trees, shade trees and pecans with a dormant, horticultural oil spray. This should be used when temperatures are expected to be above freezing for 48 hours and is best applied late in the month or early in February.

Complete the transplanting of established trees, shrubs, and native plants during winter and the selection and ordering of gladiolus corms for planting in February and March.

Complete the planting of living Christmas trees before mid-January. Your home was designed and built to keep you comfortable, but it is much too warm and dry for conifers.

“Happy Gardening!”

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