“There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw.  The other is the seed catalogs.”
–   Hal Borland

It is a new year and now is the time to start planning your garden. Don’t let the cold weather keep you from getting outside and working in the garden. Now is a great time to take care of things so that you are ready for spring – because it’s just around the corner. Here are some tips for managing your garden and landscape.tree w snow

  • Start seeds for vegetables to transplant later. Check for watering needs regularly as flats and small pots dry rapidly. Grow cool season vegetables such as onions, carrots and potatoes. Sow seeds directly in the soil.
  • Sow seeds in flats or containers to get a jump on plant growth. You still have time to start seeds for cool season flowering annuals such as petunias, begonias, and impatiens Warm temperature plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and periwinkles, should be sown in early February.
  • Work the soil in your bedding areas to aerate and reduce compaction. This will encourage healthier root systems and improved water efficiency. Add organic matter now prior to planting. A word of caution – be careful as to not work the soil when it is wet especially if you have a heavy clay soil.
  • The life of the plants you purchased or received at Christmas can be extended with proper care. Keep soil moist and ensure good drainage away from the pot. Keep the plant out of range of heating ducts and drafts. Keeping the room cool at night, preferably at 60 to 65 degrees F is ideal.
  • Lightly fertilize pansies with ½ pound of 21-0-0 or blood meal per 100 square feet of bedding area.
  • Now is an excellent time to transplant mature or established trees and shrubs while they are dormant. This is also an excellent time to select and plant container-grown roses. If you love our research-tested Earth-Kind™ roses, next month we will begin taking pre-orders for our spring rose sale. So, look for information on this event in mid-February.
  • Don’t fertilize newly transplanted trees or shrubs until after they have started to grow in the spring, and then only very lightly the first year.
  • Check junipers and other narrow-leaf evergreens for bagworm pouches. The insect eggs overwinter in the pouch, and start the cycle again by emerging in the spring to begin feeding on the foliage. Remove pouches and destroy them to prevent potential damage in the spring.
  • Now is a great time to get those pruning shears and loppers sharpened if you have not done this yet. When you do prune, have a goal and purpose. Prune woody ornamentals to maintain the shape and form of the plant and to remove diseased or dead material.
  • Trees should never be “topped” because this destroys the architectural structure and beauty of the plant’s form. Always use quality shears that will make clean cuts. Keep equipment clean and sanitized.
  • January and February are the months to accomplish pruning of fruit trees such as peach, plum and apricot trees. At least, plan on pruning before bud break. Annual pruning helps to keep the harvest within reach and to thin out crowded branches which allow more light to penetrate the canopy.
  • When pruning shrubs, first prune out any dead or damaged branches. Then, thin out by removing about one-third of the canes or stems at ground level, removing the oldest canes only. Finally, prune to shape the plant, but do not cut everything back to the same height.
  • Hold off on pruning bush roses until February or early March. Remove dead, dying, and weak canes. Leave 4 to 8 healthy canes, and remove approximately one-half of the top growth and height of the plant.
  • Climbing roses should be trained but not pruned. Weave long canes through openings in trellises or arbors and tie them with jute twine or plastic/wire plant ties. Securing canes now prevents damage from winter winds, and contributes toward a more refined look to the garden when roses are blooming. Wait until after the spring flowering period to prune climbing or once-blooming shrub roses.

Plan now for your spring garden. Time spent as an armchair gardener is fun, and you can get a lot of great ideas from those catalogs.

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