It’s time for resolutions, and small steps are easier to take than giant leaps. So instead of promising to renovate the entire yard, I’m going to plan to cross small but meaningful items off my bucket list — like finally getting that passionflower vine I’ve wanted for 10 years, growing a Halloween pumpkin and finding a spot for Harry Lauder’s walking stick, a plant that falls off my radar at planting time but is remembered every winter, when it’s too late to do anything about it.
It’s these little things that bring joy all year round. Here’s wishing you all a happy, healthy new year and 12 months of joyful resolutions — in the garden and out.
1. Make a resolution to be more organized. Start the year off right by taking inventory of seeds and supplies so you’ll know what to order for spring, which will be here before you know it.
2. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can plant the bulbs you didn’t get around to planting in fall.
3. Check tree branches for beige-colored blobs. They’re gypsy-moth egg cases. Remove, destroy and discard in the trash.
4. Rotate houseplants a quarter turn with every watering to keep them from bending toward the light.
5. Restock bird feeders and remember to provide clean water.
6. It’s the Epiphany: Take down the Christmas tree and trim some branches to use as mulch in garden beds.
7. Clean up tropicals overwintering indoors by removing yellowing foliage.
8. If you’ve rooted cuttings in the fall and they’re leggy, pinch them back a bit and change the water.
9. Inspect indoor plants for pests, taking care to check under leaves, where many prefer to live.
10. Avoid walking on the lawn. Doing so will shatter frozen grass blades, and you’ll see the damage in spring.
11. Be careful not to overwater houseplants; most don’t require much water during winter.
12. Mist houseplants every other day with room-temperature water or run a humidifier.
13. Gently rinse houseplant foliage, trim brown leaves and repot into a slightly larger container, but don’t fertilize until next month.
14. Reapply deer and rodent repellents.
15. Order seeds for annuals now for starting next month.
16. When temperatures rise above 40 degrees, spray broadleaf evergreens with anti-desiccant to protect from winter damage.
17. Check stored bulbs and corms, sprinkle with water if necessary and discard any that have rotted.
18. Hold a potful of steaming water over frozen ponds to melt an opening and release trapped gasses that can harm fish.
19. Monitor tree and shrub branches and prune those that are broken to prevent damage to people and property during winter storms.
20. When shoveling snow, pile it onto perennial beds as long as you haven’t salted. It’ll add extra insulation, igloo-like.
21. Check perennials and bulbs in the garden, and use your foot to push back those that have lifted out of the ground.
22. Check bog plants overwintering indoors and discard those that are rotting.
23. Deadhead spent amaryllis blooms and place plants by a sunny window. Fertilize and keep soil moist. Discard paperwhites when faded; they won’t return.
24. Brush snow off evergreen limbs with a broom to avoid deformities and breakage.
25. Order vegetables and perennials. The most popular seeds and plants will sell out quickly.
26. Start parsley, onions and leeks indoors in a dark spot. Move them to bright light as soon as they sprout.
27. Begin pruning dormant fruit trees, but be sure to complete the task by the end of March.
28. Cut branches of forsythia, dogwood, honeysuckle, lilac, quince and redbud, and place in vases to bloom early.
29. Start slow-growing annuals like ageratum, nicotiana, snapdragons and verbena indoors.
30. Easily eradicate mealy bugs from houseplants by touching them with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab.
31. Check arbor supports and ties that fasten vines and climbers, and tighten any that have been loosened by winter winds.