January is a time for planning – not only for the typical goals and what we want to do for the new year, but for our gardens as well. The time you take to plan for what you want to grow, where you want to grow them, and how you’ll grow them will lessen the work you’ll have to do in the spring. Plus, it’s fun to dream – all gardens are perfect gardens in our dreams, right?
We can also take this time to prep our tools and supplies for the coming season and take advantage of any nice days to get a jump on pesky weeds or replenish mulch. Bare-root trees and shrubs will become available this month and if you can plant, you should, since they are often half the price of spring potted varieties. Between these things and planning, plus buying our seeds, there’s actually quite a few things you can do for your gardens on January’s list!
Garden Chores by Month: January
Vegetable & Fruit Garden
- Dream & draw up your garden plan for the new season!
- Check your supplies, including seed-starting mix and organic fertilizers, and replenish as needed.
- Near the end of the month is time to weed the asparagus and strawberry beds and then feed the plants and add to the mulch.
- Cover any root crops still in the ground with an extra layer of mulch in freezing weather.
- Remove yellowing leaves from winter brassicas – they are no use to the plant and may harbour pests and diseases.
- Start winter pruning of fruit trees, vines, and bushes – this is best done while they are dormant. (You may want to leave plum, cherry and apricot trees unpruned until the summer to protect against silver leaf infections.)
- Prune out old growth from blueberries, blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain productivity.
- Shop online or locally for asparagus roots, strawberry plants, and fruit trees (all bare-root) to plant the end of the month.
- You can experiment with growing potatoes in containers, under cover for a very early crop (Charlotte potatoes are a good variety for this).
- Push back any plants that have “heaved” out of the ground because of freeze-thaw cycles.
- Rake heavy snow off shrubs as needed to minimize permanent damage.
- Cut back old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins – clip them to within a few centimetres of the ground.
- Cut down the old stems of perennial plants like Sedum, Yarrow, and Daylily, being careful of any new growth.
- Remove old Hellebore leaves as the new blooms emerge.
- Remove faded flowers from winter pansies to prevent them setting seed.
Seed Starting Inside
- Check any leftover seeds and make a list of what you need before ordering, then order seeds and plants early to avoid substitution.
- Start seeds of pansies, dusty miller, browallia, begonias, snapdragons, delphiniums, and other hardy perennials indoors under lights.
- At month’s end, start seeds of onions, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower indoors under lights.
- Check the condition of your gardening equipment.
- On mild days, remove winter weeds, such as wild onions and chickweed and top-dress lawns and garden beds with more compost.
- Keep an eye on fruits and vegetables in storage and remove any that are diseased.
- Stay off garden beds and lawns in general and keep to paths to maintain soil quality in the winter.
- Plant bare-root shade trees, as needed.
Note: These garden to-so lists are not comprehensive by any means, but meant to provide a jumping-off point to organizing your garden chores. Feel free to print the lists and add any of your own specific chores to the sections.