January is often a time of new resolutions, promises to do things better as you start planning your garden tasks.
Nicer days aren’t far off and nature is beginning to clamor for life… These cold but luminous days are great to get work done and to shed extra pounds put on during recent feast days.
Tradition calls for well-wishing to all as the year starts in most of the world! May every passing day make you a better person in character, relationship, and health!
The January garden: cold and asleep
January is often the coldest month of the year (well, in the Northern hemisphere) and for gardeners it is often impossible to sink a spade in the frozen soil.
Plants are resting, all the while doing their best to cope with freezing at night and in the early morning.
- Some plants, however, are in the spotlight as the year begins: New Year’s plants!
Last plants to be planted
It’s usually quite difficult to plant in January because, as mentioned earlier, the soil is often rock-hard.
However, if a mild spell occurs, feel free to plant the remaining trees, shrubs and fruit trees that you perhaps haven’t had time to plant yet.
You can also move all your deciduous plants around as long as it doesn’t freeze because their vegetation is at a complete stop and they can thus be handled without fear.
Winter care for rose trees
If your climate is mild in this period, it’s a good time to spray for the first time of the year a preparation of Bordeaux mixture.
This will speed regrowth by protecting the plants from fungal diseases.
- If the temperature is above freezing, it is still possible to plant bare-root rose trees.
Garden flowers and container plants
This is one of the quietest moments of the year for most of the outdoor plants.
If hard frost spells haven’t yet hit your area, now is the time to protect your plants from the cold.
- Refer to our guidelines to protect plants against frost.
Prepare your garden boxes because the planting of primroses and pansies isn’t far off.
You can even plant them at the end of the month if the climate is rather mild in your area.
A few shrubs and trees are bursting into bloom, such as mimosa and winter camellia. Naught to do for mimosa, but for camellia you can deadhead to keep only the most beautiful flowers on the tree.
Caring for fruit trees in January
It is still time to plant fruit trees if the temperature is above freezing.
Now is also the season to perform the winter pruning of fruit trees.
- Also look up our tips on pruning apple and pear trees.
If you’ve already planted your fruit trees, check that they’re still in shape after their first few weeks or months, and replace ties and stakes if they’ve come loose.
Lawn and grass in January
In case of deep freezes, the soil turns very hard and blades of grass break off easily.
- Avoid walking around your lawn when this is the case or you’ll unwittingly damage it.
On days when it isn’t freezing, there’s nothing to do except perhaps lightly topdress the lawn with a very thin layer of compost.
January in the vegetable patch
Although for the most part winter crops can survive the cold without any form of protection, it is nonetheless advisable to protect them in case of extreme cold.
For that, use mulch, dried leaves or straw which will make pulling them out easier since it will keep the soil from freezing.
- You can start preparing the soil for the first seedlings-to-be.
- Spread organic soil conditioner made from manure and seaweed on your soil.
Manure will help keep temperatures from dropping too low.
Indeed, mixed into mulch, microbial activity will give roots a few precious degrees more.
Best is to always spread lots and lots of it!
- Also, now is a good time to chop and till in green manure.
Sowing in January of your first vegetables
In a sheltered place with heating, some varieties can be planted already. In some regions, a cold frame (shown here) is enough.
Such are carrot, cabbage, leek, endives (chicory), lettuce, and turnip.
- Keep some manure to form a hot bed outside: seedlings on it won’t freeze even when the temperature drops.
Caring for garden animals in January
With the cold come hardships for little animals.
- Determine whether or not you should feed birds yet or wait a bit longer
- In this season, ivy and a series of other berry types mature. They might help the birds fend out on their own a little longer.
There we go! That was it for January. Spend time planning your garden near the stove with a piping hot mug of tea, that’s enjoyable, too! Days slowly grow longer and during the next month you’ll notice the first signs that life is awakening.
Pixabay: Bernadette Kaufmann, Mateusz Grabowski, Лариса Мозговая, Ylanite Koppens
Public Domain: USDA NRCS Montana
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