Garden Tasks for January

Garden Tasks for January

By Michael Jenkins

As we keep pointing out: it may still feel like winter, but spring is closer than we think. With that in mind, it’s time to start thinking about the spring and summer garden and what you’d like to see in your space this year.  What that means will depend on your climate, your space, and your goals, but there are some commonalities we all face. So we thought that we’d offer some suggestions regarding garden tasks for January to help you get organized, get ready, and get started. Let’s dig in!

This is an excellent time of the year to gather the supplies you need for your spring and summer garden! While January isn’t a great time for most of us to move plants outdoors, it can be a great time to buy the seeds you need and get them started indoors. Starting seeds is pretty easy if you understand a bit about how seeds work and you have the right supplies. We’ve written about that in detail here, so take a look. Now’s also the time to order the materials and tools you need. From raised beds to containers to garden shears, acquire your supplies now and beat the rush. Getting ready early can take the pressure off a busy spring planting season!

In addition to buying or ordering what you need, January is also a good time to take inventory of what you have and to give your garden tools some care and maintenance. Take a good look at your garden equipment—including containers and raised beds, shears, rakes, shovels, and the like—and make sure they’re in good working order. Now’s the time to fix up the raised beds, sharpen and oil your tools, and otherwise fix and clean up everything. Again, by doing it now you’ll be making life easier when it comes time to put in your garden!

This is also the time to start looking at your trees and shrubs and seeing what care they need. Fruit trees and some fruiting bushes/shrubs will need pruning at this time of the year to help ensure that they produce health new growth and lots of yummy fruits for you when their growing season comes. Pruning is also a good chance to take a look at your trees and shrubs. Check for any winter damage to the plants or to the soil around them, apply mulch as needed, and (for those of us in warmer parts of the country) it may be time to put down some compost and/or fertilizer in anticipation of the growing season to come.

Speaking of mulch and compost: it’s time to take a look at your compost heap!  You may have good compost that’s ready to spread in your garden. Check at the bottom of your heap—that’s where things generally decompose the quickest—and see if your kitchen scraps and yard wastes have turned into something that looks like soil. If so, it’s ready to use. You may not want to start digging and spreading compost just yet—it’s still too cold in much of the country—but you’ll have an idea of what’s available when thing warm up a bit.

Finally, take a moment to dream. Look over your garden journal or notes from last year and think about what you’d like to do, try, or experience in this year’s garden. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to experiment a bit over the winter and have some ideas going forward.  Your garden is your own, and whether it’s an expansive outdoor space or a few containers on a windowsill we hope you’ll find a way to keep learning when spring comes!

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