Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gardening Tips for January...

By Pat Kriener, Village interpreter and Master Gardener

Being a Texas gardener I always say January is for scheming and dreaming.  I spend several hours scheming with the following catalogs, magazines and books trying to make my garden dreams come true:

Wilhite seed,

Native American seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Womack Nursery (great resource for berries and fruit trees)

Texas Garden Magazine

Organic Gardening Magazine

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening by Howard Garrett

Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening by Greg Grant

The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips & Chelsea Green

  • Annuals – Plant dianthus, pansies, snapdragons and violas are some of the hardest for winter.

 Plant by seed into the ground alyssum, annual phlox, calendula, and nasturtium and stock.

  • Bulbs – Plant tulips & hyacinths now. Forcing bulbs is always a favorite winter gardening project for paperwhites, amaryllis and calla lilies. If the stores still have the kits they should be on clearance sale but to create your own simply plant paperwhite bulbs in glass bowl or container filled with rocks to their shoulders. Just add water, keep in dim light until first green shows then place in bright light. Early Spring Bulbs are up & growing in the beds, watch for the early bloomers. 
  • Compost Bin – Throw all clipping, leaves, vegetable and garden waste in compost. Top-dress all beds &  trees with compost--it’s a wonderful slow release fertilizer
  • Container Plants – Searching for different container ideas? Grab a friend and go to antique shops, garage sales or search your own kitchen cabinets for items such as old stock pots, coffeepots, teapots, Jell-O-molds, bread pans, strainers, flour sifter, recycled vegetable cans, sugar bowls and cream pitchers. Worried about drainage? Add holes or layer the bottom with pebbles and organic charcoal.
  • Fruits & Nuts- plant bare root and container grown trees. Start looking for bush fruit: blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Vine fruits:  grapes & muscadines.  
  • Greenhouse – Cut heating costs by using black barrels or buckets filled with water to create solar heating in the greenhouse.  Put the buckets in the sun to absorb heat and the water inside will help hold the heat so the temperatures do not drop as rapidly. Keeping the lid closed will hold the heat in longer but open them if humidity is needed. Also they make it handy for quick watering. Time to seed propagate spring perennials, annuals and early spring vegetables. Check all over-wintering plants for winter damage, disease, fungus and pests. Watch temperatures and airflow.
  • Herbs - Being an herbalist and an avid gardener I want everyone to have herbs in their yard for the simple reason they are a multipurpose landscape plant. Next time you need a 5 ft. evergreen shrub think about using rosemary; many varieties bloom off & on all year, smell great and have many culinary and medicinal uses.
  • Lawn – Mow or cut back winter grass & weeds to keep them under control. Talk to your local garden center about additional ways to control them...hopefully organic! Don’t bag those leaves; mulch them for fertilizer or place in compost. 
  • Mulch - If you haven’t put new mulch down, pull existing mulch back and cover beds with newspaper (at least 12 sheets thick); cover with at least 3 inches of mulch.
  • Perennials – Now is a good time to move them. Mulch 2 to 3 in. deep, Deadhead but do not cut back until we have had at least 2 hard frosts.  If unsure when to cut back, just wait until February.
  • Problems - To learn more about plant diseases and pests contact your local Extension Agent, Master Gardener or Garden Center.
  • Roses - EarthKind Roses are still in the garden centers. Top dress and mulch existing roses. It’s also a good time to transplant roses if you need to move them.
  • Tools – this is the time to do tune-ups on mowers, tillers, shredders, chainsaws, and any other garden equipment. 
  • Trees - Fall & winter are the best time to plant trees. 
  • Vegetable Garden –Plan your Spring Garden NOW! Get your materials ready for seed propagation; seed mats, pots, soil and seeds. Start cool weather and spring seeds inside to be planted in 6 to 8 weeks. Plant transplants of beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, English & snow peas, Irish potatoes, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mustard, onion sets, shallot sets, spinach & turnips. Cleanup beds, add compost, and cover with mulch.
  • Watering  - Watering your plants before an oncoming freeze is the best way to protect them. Water your lawn & plants on a 7-day watering cycle unless it rains.
  • Wildlife in the garden – Hummingbirds over-winter in Texas so please keep at least one feeder up. Great time to select sites for bluebird, bat and mason bee homes.
Enjoy this slow month for gardening