Getting out in the garden during a blistering January isn’t easy—but, for gardeners who want to keep ahead of their new year’s resolutions, getting prep out of the way early in the year is necessary to set the foundations for a successful garden in the spring. So look out for a few mild days, bundle up, and start digging in the dirt again. Here’s some of what can be done:
Gardening in January
Now is the perfect time to prune dormant rose bushes. You’ll want to cut back to just above the bud and remove any dead branches. You can also cut back ornamental grasses to a few centimeters above the ground, cut old stems on perennial plants to encourage new growth when the weather warms, and remove withered flowers from winter bloomers like pansies. Fruit trees are also best pruned while dormant, so, if you’re growing apple or pear trees, trim them up.
Though not much grows this time of year in the soil, you can begin your vegetable harvest by gardening indoors. Mushrooms can be grown indoors using a simple growing kit. Herbs and spices can be cultivated on a well-insulated window ledge, and you can begin sprouting potatoes in egg containers kept in a bright, cool spot–or you can grow an early harvest of potatoes in a covered container. As long as the soil is malleable, you can plant new trees and shrubs in the ground while they’re still dormant.
When the weather is poor, gardens and landscapes need regular maintenance to withstand the cold, ice, and snow. Heavy blankets of snow should be brushed off of evergreens and tree branches to prevent breakage. Old Christmas trees can be shredded up and used for hearty compost. Empty plant pots need a thorough wash to prevent mold from growing. Be sure to check on indoor plants regularly—indoor heating can dry out the air and cause damage. Water them with increased frequency accordingly.
Now is the ideal time to order seeds for the upcoming season. Before you order seeds, have a detailed garden plan drawn out so you know exactly what you need. Be prepared—as soon as the weather starts warming up, seeds reserves start dwindling.
Don’t forget about wildlife this time of year. Installing a few bird feeders in your yard will give native birds a much-needed habitat. Growing winter plants that produce berries and seeds can also help feed local fauna—but be on the lookout for pests that might be overwintering on dormant plants. Decaying debris can harbor all kinds of unsavory diseases and critters alike.