Garden Detective: January chores

When the weather gets tough, the tough get

When the weather gets tough, the tough get gardening. (Dec. 26 2010) (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Jessica Damiano

Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist Jessica Damiano

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more

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Did you make any mistakes in 2011? Maybe you transplanted roses in the heat of summer or cut back the hydrangeas at the wrong time. No worries: It's the new year -- a time for new beginnings and resolutions.

So take note of what you'd like to change and resolve to continue what works for you. Here are some winter chores to help start the year off right. Happy 2012, everyone!

1. If you didn't get around to planting all your spring bulbs, you can still get them into the ground as long as the soil is workable.

2. Check on indoor tropical plants and snip away any yellow foliage.

3. Mist houseplants every other day with room-temperature water.

4. Restock bird feeders and be sure to provide clean water.

5. Deadhead African violets and other flowering houseplants, and snip off brown leaf tips.

6. Reapply deer and rodent repellents.

7. Avoid walking on frozen turf.

8. Time to take down the Christmas tree. Trim branches and use as mulch over garden beds to keep soil temperature even and protect roots.

9. If you rooted cuttings in the fall and they're leggy, pinch them back and change the water.

10. Take care not to overwater houseplants; most don't require much water during winter.

11. Check tree branches for gypsy moth egg cases (they look like beige-colored blobs). Remove, destroy and discard in the trash.

12. Check stored bulbs and corms, sprinkle with water if necessary and discard any that have rotted.

13. Be sure to shovel walkways before applying salt, otherwise salted snow dumped in garden beds may harm plants.

14. Give houseplant foliage a rinse, trim dry leaves and repot into a slightly larger container, but don't fertilize until next month.

15. Order seeds for annuals now for starting indoors next month.

16. Walk around the garden to check for crowns that have heaved out of the soil. Push them back in with your foot and mulch.

17. When temperatures are above 40 degrees, spray broadleaf evergreens with anti-desiccant to protect from winter damage.

18. Hold a potful of steaming water over frozen ponds to melt an opening in the surface that will release trapped gasses that can poison fish.

19. Rotate potted houseplants with every watering to keep them from bending toward the light.

20. Monitor tree and shrub branches and prune broken ones.

21. Inspect indoor plants for pests, taking care to check under leaves, where many prefer to live.

22. Check bog plants overwintering indoors and discard those that are rotting.

23. Ornamental grasses can look nice all winter long, but if yours are looking shabby, cut them back now.

24. After snowfall, gently brush snow from evergreen branches with a long-handled broom to prevent buckling.

25. When blooms are faded, deadhead forced amaryllis, but discard paperwhites.

26. Order vegetables and perennials. The most popular seeds and plants will sell out soon. Most mail-order nurseries time shipments for spring planting.

27. Start parsley, onions and leeks indoors in a dark location. As soon as seeds sprout, move them into bright light: under fluorescent lights or by a sunny window.

28. Begin pruning dormant fruit trees, but be sure to finish by the end of March or you'll sacrifice fruit.

29. Cut branches of forsythia, dogwood, honeysuckle, lilac, quince and redbud to force blooms indoors in vases.

30. Check arbor supports and ties that fasten climbing plants and vines. Tighten up any that have been loosened by winter winds.

31. Join the party: get my gardening tips and news at twitter.com/jessicadamiano and facebook.com/jessicadamiano.