January lettuce in the cold frame
The poet Shelley asked, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” My answer to that question is that it will be here before we know it.
Most of my garden to-do items this month are indoors. All will help make spring clean-up and planting much saner. Hopefully one or more of these items will spark you into spring activity as well.
Learn from last year: Review notes and photos from last year’s garden. Pledge not to repeat any of last year’s mis-steps. Top on my list is planting more intensively for maximum production.
Dream a little or a lot: There’s nothing like a few hours of armchair gardening with colorful garden catalogs and websites.
Sketch out goals: What do I want to start, plant, move, build and divide? I’m thinking about new fences, flower boxes and plant supports as well as plantings and lawn repair.
Make a list: What do I need to buy in terms of seeds, pots, potting soil, and tools? What plants do I intend to sow from seeds and what will I buy as seedlings?
Take seed stock: Early, easy spring sowing options include radishes, lettuces, and peas. Toss your old seeds or test their viability. Order soon for best selection. Two mail order providers to try are Johnny’s Seeds and Fedco.
Check coldframe: To-do tasks include covering it at night if the temperature will dip below 20 degrees, uncovering it the next day and harvesting greens weekly. I’m sowing new spinach and lettuces indoors this week so I’ll have transplants for February planting.
Fill feeders: The titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, house finches, juncos, and woodpeckers coming to feeders depend on us. Keep fresh water in the birdbath for bathing and drinking.
Tend houseplants: Keep up regular light watering. Remove browning or dead leaves. Regular up-close inspections help catch insect or scale issues before they get out of hand.
Enjoy winter’s blossoms: I try to have at least one house plant in flower every month. Currently, a foot-tall Snow Rose (Serissa japonica) pruned into a standard is bearing delicate tiny white flowers. If you don’t have a blooming house plant, ten dollars will buy you one.
Sharpen tools: Prices vary but figure on something like $5 per item to bring rusty dull tools back to useful service. Call your local hardware store.
Clean and organize: Scrub out last year’s pots and dry thoroughly.
Be inspired: Breathe in tropical scents with a day trip to the greenhouses at the New York Botanical Garden or Wave Hill, both in the Bronx, N.Y. The New Jersey Flower & Garden Show is coming up Feb 12 – 15 at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison.
Get ready gardeners. While it is the depths of winter, spring is on the way.