A new year in the garden. I'm already starting to make journal entries for January. Not much to shout about in the weather department. We've had dry Decembers before but if January turns out to be the start of 6 weeks of Caribbean-like weather like last year we'll never catch up.
The weather affects how things grow as much as the soil that plants grow in. Remember the cool spring and summer we had while you waited for your tomatoes to ripen? I was just looking at the weather forecasts for 2010 that the Farmer's Almanac predicted. Last May when I first wrote about them they were way off for the first half of the year and at best were hit and miss for the latter half. October did bring rain for us as predicted but they hedged their bets for November calling for "bands of showers" off and on during the month. December for us brought lots of frost and a heavy wind storm. Although the frost was predicted by the Almanac, I didn't see any "light to moderate rainfall" in December. I put my trust in the satellite map, internet weather sites and my own common sense to judge when to start planting, pruning and transplanting for the season.
This year I'm going to start off right by noting on my calendar at the beginning of each month just what I need to do to ensure a happy, healthy garden.
Here are the tasks to do in the garden in January:
- Plan for spring. Bareroot fruit, nut, berry and ornamental season runs through the end of February. Don't miss this inexpensive way to add to your edible garden or your landscape.
- Cut back hydrangeas if you haven't already done so. Apply soil sulfur, aluminum sulfate or other acidifier if you want to encourage blue flowers. You must do this before they set flower buds or it won't help.
- Prune fruit, nut and shade trees and spray with horticultural oil, lime sulfur, liquid sulfur or copper dormant spray. You should get one more spraying in about Valentine's Day. This is actually the most important one as it's just before bud break. Don't use lime-sulfer on apricots, though.
- Cut back summer flowering deciduous shrubs and vines. Don't prune spring flowering varieties like lilac, flowering cherry, plum and crabapple, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, weigela and spirea until after flowering but you can cut some during flowering to bring in for bouquets.
- Control overgrown honeysuckle, potato vine, morning glory, trumpet creeper and pink jasmine by thinning now or even cutting back low to the ground if they are a big tangled mess.
- Prune roses towards the end of the month. I'll tell you how to do this later but it's not as hard as it sounds.
- Bait for slugs and snails
And here are the tasks you should not do in January:
- Don't cut back grasses yet if you get frost in the area where they grow.
- Wait to prune back perennials that may have their new foliage damaged in a late frost
- Wait until February to prune frost damaged shrubs if you can tell how far down the die back goes otherwise wait until growth starts in the spring.
- Wait to prune fuchsias and other perennials until February.
- Don't fertilize houseplants until March. Because they are resting at this time of year, they use little water. Don't overwater. Be sure they are dry before watering.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me. I'd love to hear from you.