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January 2020, Week 1

Let's say farewell to December and to 2019 in a couple more days and hello to 2020!

Now that our weather has returned to more seasonal temperatures and we've had a little rainfall across many portions of the state, we can turn our attention to our yards and gardens again without the distraction of all the holiday activities.

There are a few garden chores that can be completed at this time of the year, including:

--Continuing to gather, chop/shred and use autumn leaves, whether for mulch or as an ingredient in compost piles.

--Planting winter color plants if you find them in stores, including violas, pansies, stock, snapdragons and dianthus. Be sure to keep them well-watered and well-fed because it will help them withstand cold weather better.

--Planting bare-root fruit and nut trees, brambles and grapevines. These will show up in stores any time if they haven't already, and in another few weeks they'll be followed by bare-root strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus crowns among other things.

--Checking your trees for clumps of mistletoe and removing those parasites while you still can, hopefully before they've spread too far. If the clumps are too high in the tree to remove with a pole pruner, your options may be limited. Some country folk will shoot the clumps out of the trees but we've never done that, and I probably wouldn't advocate doing so because of the risk of a bullet ricocheting or because of the risk of stray bullets going places you never meant for them to go.

--Pruning any damaged limbs from trees that are unsound and might come down in a winter ice storm. It always is better to remove those limbs yourself before an ice storm removes them in a perhaps very inconvenient or dangerous manner.

--Removing any invasive grasses, like Bermuda grass and Johnson grass, that may have invaded fencelines, ornamental beds and veggie beds near the end of last season. Winter time, with rain-softened soils and pleasant temperatures, is a great time to do this.

--Winter sowing seeds in jugs and other plastic containers if that is something that you do.

--If you aren't sure that all your garden tools are "tanned, rested and ready" for the new season, then now is a great time to locate them all, clean them up, and have them ready for use as needed. If any are broken and can be repaired, now is the time to do that, or if replacement tools are needed, now is a great time to get them and have them handy for when you will need them very soon. This includes big tools too like wheelbarrows or garden carts, string trimmers, rototillers or soil cultivators, lawn mowers, etc. Getting them ready to function now saves you the frustration of going to use them one day and finding that they are not in good working order.

Looking ahead to winter and spring planting season, now is a great time to be checking your seeds on hand, making lists of what you are going to grow and what you need to buy, and perusing gardening catalogs and websites for the seeds you need, or merely the seeds you want.....we all know the difference between a need and a want, right?????

Don't forget to feed the birds. If we want to have songbirds around to help us control pests in the growing season, we need to feed them and help them stay healthy and strong in the winter time.

Tell us what you're working on now. Perhaps you'll mention something that will inspire somebody else to tackle a similar task.

Have a nice, quiet end of December and a very Happy New Year as we begin 2020.


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