January Tips and To-Do's to Keep Your Garden Fit

Take advantage of the mild weather to get your garden on!

Ok, so we're sitting here in the second week of January with bright sun, warm temps and no rain.  Plants are popping up in the garden that shouldn't be, and I am watching the buds on my peach tree start to swell.  Of course as soon as I post this, the temperature will probably plummet and a cold storm will sweep through the Valley driving everyone back inside. I thought it would be a good idea to encourage you to get out into the garden while it's still warm and dry.  Each month I'll post some easy to accomplish gardening tips and to do's to help keep your garden, whether you have a 'back 40' or a tiny patio,  healthy and beautiful.

  • Rain  January is traditionally the wettest month in the Valley (although not so much this year), and you definitely don't want to be out planting in the rain or immediately after.  Tromping around on soggy soil only compacts it and depletes it of air pockets, which plant need to survive.  Always wait a few days for the soil to dry out a bit before walking on it and digging.  In the meantime, set out some buckets or buy a rain barrel to capture the rain water, which can be used to water your plants after the rain stops.  Oh, yes, don't forget to turn off your sprinklers!
  • Bare Roots  Have you always wanted a few peach or apricot trees? A fragrant rose garden? Grapes?  January is the best month to purchase and plant bare root trees, shrubs and roses, and nurseries have the best selection.  While bare root plants don't look like much, they are less expensive than purchasing plants that are already in pots and blooming.  By spring or early summer, you will be rewarded with fresh new leaves and flowers. Green Arrow Nursery http://www.greenarrownurseries.com/current/ in North Hills always has a good selection of bare root plants (and they offer a $10.00 off min $50.00 purchase coupon!).
  • Clean up January is a great time to clean up your garden: prune your roses; cut back dead wood on your fruit trees before they bloom; add mulch to help prevent soil erosion when it rains.
  • Veggies & Herbs  There's still time to get some cool season veggies and herbs into the ground or a raised bed.  Plant lettuces, peas, kale, Swiss chard, cilantro, parsley. 
  • Indoor Color  One of my favorite things to do in winter is to grow or force bulbs inside. 'Forcing' refers to tricking the bulb to grown and flower out of season.  Especially when the days are shorter, flowering bulbs add the right pop of color and sometimes (as with paperwhites) a heady fragrance to a room. You can buy bulbs that are pre-forced and transfer them gently to a favorite container (as I did with the mini daffodils in the picture). You can also force in water by placing bulbs (paperwhites/Narcissus, Hyacinth, Amaryllis, and even tulips that have been chilled in the fridge for several weeks) in a glass container on top of a shallow layer of pebbles or rocks and filling with water until it just reaches the bottom of the bulb. Keep in a cool area out of bright light until the roots set and and you see the leaves emerge. Add additional water as necessary. Once the leave start to emerge, move your container to a sunnier area, and watch as it continues to grow and bloom.

Enjoy your garden, even in winter.  If you are not sure where to start or how to realize your ideas for a garden (no matter how small), feel free to check me out at http://www.edencondensed.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EdenCondensed. I would love to create a garden just for you!