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What To Do In The Garden In January

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What To Do In The Garden In January

Have you ever sat around and thought, “I know I should be doing something in the garden right about now, but I’m not sure what”? The obvious things are easy to remember, but so many times we’re caught off guard and forget to do something crucial. We’re here to help with our monthly lists of what to do in the garden — and remember, these are general lists and not specific to a growing zone or gardening region, so always check with your area experts for more detailed suggestions.

January Garden Chores & Activities

  1. Maintain garden tools. Now’s the time to clean, sharpen, and repair your garden tools, and if one is beyond repair, buy a replacement so it’s here by the time spring rolls around.
  2. Start seeds indoors. This will vary, of course, depending upon where you live, but if you’re a seed starter, it’s best to plan ahead.
  3. Force bulbs indoors. Holiday favorites like amaryllis and paperwhites are still great choices for indoor bloom.
  4. Clean up the garden. If you didn’t tend to this before the holidays, it’s not too late. Actually, it’s never really too late to get and keep your garden tidy, is it? Remove and dispose of dead or diseased plants, organize tools and pottery, clean up your greenhouse or potting shed, throw out any trash, and tidy up kids’ outdoor toys.
  5. Plan a new garden bed. Frigid January temps are ideal for cozying up with some armchair gardening. Plan a new bed, make lists of the bulbs and plants you want to buy, rethink a gathering area, and dream about new patio furniture, pottery, and accessories.
  6. Check on your stored bulbs, corms, and tubers. Your stored bulbs should be in a cool and dry place, so check on them to make sure they aren’t rotted or (oddly enough) too dry.
  7. Recycle your Christmas tree. If you used a fresh tree for your holiday décor, research where you can recycle it in your area. Some cities have designated drop-off lots for trees to be turned into compost or mulch.
  8. Read garden books and look through garden catalogues. And, of course, your favorite garden websites (hint, hint). Garden books and catalogues inspire us when days are short and dark, and they help us plan ahead for this year and the next. See something you love? Place that order! Chances are other people are going to love it, too, and you don’t want to run the risk of something you really want being sold out.
  9. Cover tender plants before a freeze. Now, obviously if you live in an area where it freezes every night and there’s snow on the ground, this chore may not need to be on your list of things to do. For many other gardeners, freezes or frosts are much less frequent and can take them by surprise. Be sure you have sheets, blankets, or designated plant covers for those occasional low temps that could do some damage.
  10. Run an irrigation check. Most of us don’t use our automatic irrigation systems as much during the winter months, and some gardeners don’t have or need them at all. But if you do, January is a great time to make sure everything is running smoothly. Doing a full checkup now gives you plenty of time to make necessary repairs before the spring gardening rush is on!

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  • Jenny Peterson