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January 2020, Week 2

The weather this week looks interesting. It might be more interesting in some parts of the state than in others. Temperatures seem like they will vary from near-normal for January to as much as 10 degrees above normal in other areas on a few days, and many of us have rain in the forecast later in the week.

There are many gardening chores that can be done now, including the following:

Ordering seeds online or checking out the seed racks once they appear in local stores. Those piles of seed catalogs are sitting there just waiting to tempt you into buying.

Organizing/re-organizing your seed supply so you can see what you have on hand already. This helps remind you what you need to buy and might prevent you from buying duplicate packets of seeds that you already have on hand.

Wintersowing seeds if wintersowing is a technique you use.

Broadcast sowing of most wildflower seeds can be done now, particularly cool-season bloomers. The February-March time frame is a great time to sow seeds of warm-season wildflowers. In your garden beds, you can sow seeds of larkspur and poppies now through March. The earlier you sow them, the earlier they'll likely bloom for you.

Preparing for indoor seed starting that will occur over the next month or two. You can be gathering all your seed starting supplies now, checking your lighting setup to make sure all the bulbs are working, setting up your seed-starting shelf, etc.

Planting bare-root fruit and nut trees, brambles and berries as fresh stock arrives in stores. I've always had the best success with bare root plants if I purchase them as soon as they arrive in the stores because they do better if we get them out of their plastic bags as soon as possible. Asparagus crowns also arrive in stores at about the same time and can be planted any time now in well-prepared soil. Remember that the asparagus plants will be growing in that soil for the next 15-20 years so do good soil prep first before planting.

Planting any pre-chilled tulip and hyacinth bulbs lingering in your refrigerator. It is time now (almost past time if you're further south) to get them in the ground so they can sprout and grow and bloom on time a few months from now. Other bulbs like daffodils that do not need pre-chilling also can be planted now if you didn't get them planted previously.

Adding cool-season annuals (some may be perennial depending on your location within the state) for seasonal color if you are feeling starved for blooming flowers. You can plant these any time after they arrive in local stores: pansies, violas, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage, ornamental kale, and dianthus. A month or so after these appear in stores, some of the less cold hardy cool season flowers also will show up: English daisies, sweet alyssum, Iceland poppies, calendula and stocks.

Trees and shrubs can be transplanted now while dormant if you have any that need to be moved.

Depending on how far south you are in the state, this is a good time of the year to begin pruning. If you are further north, you may want to wait a few more weeks. Plants that can be pruned in more southern areas now include crape myrtles (removing old seed heads or doing corrective pruning, but please don't murder your crape myrtles), roses, fruit trees, grapevines and summer or autumn-blooming shrubs. Remember to avoid pruning your spring blooming shrubs now. With those, you want to wait until after they have bloomed. If you prune at the wrong time, you could be cutting off this year's blossoms before they have a chance to bloom. I know it sounds crazy to be talking about pruning roses, but mine already have a lot of new growth, so they are ready....even if I am not.

This is a good time to remove (or have removed) trees that are dead or dying or otherwise too close to a house or whatever. It also is a good time to prune mistletoe out of your trees if you can reach it with a pole pruner.

Corrective pruning of evergreen shrubs also can be done now.

Removing any winter weeds from beds and adding mulch to prevent more volunteer weeds from sprouting is a great chore for January, with one caveat: if you'll leave early blooming weeds like dandelions, henbit and chickweed, the bees will thank you as they need those blossoms when they come out on warm winter days. There's no reason to leave weedy winter grasses like poa annua though, as you want to remove those before they can go to seed.

If you still have autumn leaves available that you have not raked up or mowed up and utilized, now is a good time to finish up that chore. The same is true if you have acorns, pecans or other nuts lying on the ground.

I don't use fertilizer much, preferring to feed the soil and let the soil feed the plants. However, if you do apply fertilizer, now is a good time to feed plants as needed, especially winter-blooming flowers that might need a little nutrition to keep them happily in bloom. It still is too early to fertilize lawns though.

Remember to feed your compost pile as you do yard and garden clean up.

Finally, don't forget to feed the birds!

Have a great week everyone.


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