Garden Detective: January chores
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January has always been a time for new beginnings -- and that includes the garden. Although it may be cold and dreary outside, it's time to start preparing for spring.
1. Happy New Year! Plan a new start in the garden by browsing catalogs.
2. Renew tropicals overwintering indoors by removing yellowing foliage.
3. Check on indoor tropical plants and snip away any yellow foliage.
4. Restock bird feeders and be sure to provide clean water, too.
5. Remember that most houseplants don't require much water during winter.
6. It's the Epiphany -- time to take down the Christmas tree. Trim branches and apply as mulch to beds.
7. If you've rooted cuttings in the fall and they're growing leggy, pinch them back. Change the water, too.
8. Avoid walking on the lawn. Doing so will shatter frozen grass blades, and you'll see the damage come spring.
9. Snip yellow foliage from indoor tropical plants.
10. Mist houseplants with room-temperature water every other day or run a humidifier.
11. Deadhead African violets and other flowering houseplants.
12. Gently rinse houseplant foliage, trim brown leaves and repot into the next size container, but don't fertilize until next month.
13. Check tree branches for gypsy moth egg cases (they look like used chewing gum). Remove, destroy and discard in the trash.
14. Check stored bulbs and corms, sprinkle with water if necessary and discard any that have rotted.
15. Reapply deer and rodent repellents.
16. When temperatures are above 40 degrees, spray broadleaf evergreens with anti-desiccant to protect from winter damage.
17. Hold a potful of steaming water over frozen pond surfaces to melt an opening and release gasses that are harmful to fish.
18. Rotate houseplant pots with every watering to keep them from bending toward the light.
19. Prune off cracked and broken tree branches to avoid nearby damage should they be torn off by wind.
20. Inspect indoor plants for pests, taking care to check under leaves where many prefer to live.
21. Walk around the garden to check for crowns that have heaved out of the soil. Push them back in with your foot and apply mulch.
22. After snowfall, gently brush snow from evergreen branches with a long-handled broom to prevent buckling and permanent damage.
23. Clean and sterilize seed-starting supplies to avoid spreading damping-off and other diseases. You'll be planting before you know it!
24. Order vegetables and perennials. The most popular seeds and plants will sell out soon. Most nurseries time shipping for spring planting.
25. Start parsley, onion and leek seeds in a dark spot indoors, and move into bright light and as soon as they sprout.
26. Begin pruning dormant fruit trees now, but be sure to complete the task by the end of March to avoid impacting fruit production.
27. When blooms are faded, deadhead forced amaryllis, which can be regrown next year, but discard paperwhites.
28. Pining for spring? Place cut branches of forsythia, dogwood, honeysuckle, lilac, quince and redbud in vases with water to force an early bloom.
29. Start slow-growing annuals like ageratum, nicotiana, snapdragons and verbena indoors.
30. Check arbor supports and ties that fasten climbing plants and vines. Tighten up any that have been loosened by winter winds.
31. If ornamental grasses are looking shabby, cut them down now. Otherwise, it's fine to leave them be until March.