I see you, cuddled up by the fire in your new footsie pajamas, sipping on cocoa (or is that mulled wine?) without a care in the world. Snap out of it! I know your garden was beautiful last summer, but with deadheading and pruning, protecting and securing to be done, this is no time to rest on your laurels. Pull on your boots and gloves, and tend to these chores and concerns. You may resent me now, but you’ll thank me in April.
1. Happy New Year! It’s time to start something new, like a compost pile. Get instructions at newsday.com/gardening101.
2. As long as there isn’t any snow cover and the soil is soft enough to dig into, you can still tuck any unplanted bulbs into the ground.
3. If you received gift plants for the holidays, quarantine them for two weeks to ensure they aren’t harboring pests.
4. Avoid walking on frozen or muddy turf; doing so can break grass blades and — worse — damage soil structure, which is very difficult to rectify.
5. Setting out a bird feeder isn’t enough: You need to keep it clean and stocked. And don’t forget water.
6. It’s the Epiphany and also time to take down your Christmas tree. Consider using branches to mulch over garden beds to keep soil temperature even and protect roots.
7. If you planted evergreens this past season, protect them with a burlap wrap to avoid wind and snow damage.
8. Rotate indoor plant pots a quarter turn every day, and keep away from heat sources.
9. Check tree branches for gypsy moth egg cases — which look like used chewing gum — and remove, destroy and discard in the trash.
10. Deadhead flowering houseplants, like African violets, and remove any brown leaf tips.
11. Every other day, mist houseplants with room-temperature water or run the humidifier to counter dry heat and keep them healthy.
12. Place orders for seeds and annuals now, before mail- and web-order nurseries run out of your selections.
13. To protect from winter damage, spray broadleaf evergreens with an anti-desiccant — but only when the temperature is above 40 degrees.
14. Check on stored bulbs and corms, and sprinkle with water if they appear dry. Discard any that have shriveled or rotted.
15. Be vigilant and remove broken or damaged branches from trees after storms to protect against damage to people and property.
16. Inspect houseplants for pests, taking care to check under leaves, where many take up residence.
17. If you rooted cuttings in the fall and they’re growing leggy, pinch them back. Change the water, regardless.
18. Gently rinse dust off houseplant foliage, trim away dead leaves and replant into the next-size pot.
19. When blooms have faded, deadhead amaryllis, which can be saved for next year, but discard paperwhites.
20. Check beds and borders for root crowns or bulbs that have heaved out of the soil. Push them back with your foot and cover with mulch.
21. If ornamental grasses are beginning to look unkempt, you can cut them down. Waiting until March is fine, too.
22. Hold a pot of steaming water over frozen yard ponds to melt an opening in the surface that will release trapped gasses that can poison fish.
23. If you didn’t clean and disinfect pruners and other hand tools before storing in fall, do so now.
24. Check in with bog plants that are overwintering indoors; discard any that are rotting.
25. Tired of winter? Force early spring blooms by placing garden-cut stems of forsythia, dogwood, honeysuckle, lilac, quince or redbud in a vase indoors.
26. Take an inventory of leftover seeds and test for viability: wrap a few in a paper towel and keep moist for up to three weeks. If they don’t sprout, the entire batch likely won’t, either.
27. In the absence of snow or rain, remember to water evergreens planted within the past year.
28. Resume fertilizing houseplants, but at half-strength.
29. Whatever you do, don’t get antsy and start vegetable seeds yet. They’ll grow too tall and leggy, and lose their vigor by planting time.
30. Begin pruning dormant fruit trees and be sure to finish by the end of March, or you may sacrifice fruit.
31. Set indoor miniature roses under grow lights for a few hours after sunset each day to encourage blooming.