Here is a list of garden chores for the month of January, adapted from The Mountain Gardener, a newsletter put out by the Buncombe County Master Gardeners program, part of NC Extension. Each month they include a list specific to western NC.
Our winter has been so mild this year that I have actually seen a few daffodils and forsythia blooming already. Hopefully the fruit trees won’t get tricked into blossoming early and then get struck by a killing frost.
• Take a break.
• Or better yet, use the down time to take the mower in for a tune up.
• Tree and shrub branches bent or broken by winter ice or snow may need to be removed or pruned back. Always make clean cuts at a branch collar. See Trees, Flush Cuts and Wound Dressings for tips.
• A live Christmas tree should be planted as soon as possible. Do not leave the root ball exposed to freezing temperatures after removing the tree from the house.
• Check house plants for signs of insect infestations. If treatment is needed, try weekly applications of insecticidal soap or other organic treatment. The shower is a good place to apply it.
• Prune grape vines and high bush blueberries.
• Do not prune fruit trees until March, especially peaches.
• If the soil dries out enough to work, go ahead and prepare a spot for the late February planting of peas and kale.
• Start your garden plan on paper as you browse the garden catalogs. You can get our print catalog mailed to you here, or just look at our online catalog (top menu bar). Working on paper will help prevent ordering more than you have room to plant.
• If you left carrots or parsnips in the garden, dig them if the ground is not frozen.
• Clean out bird houses and put up new ones. Bluebirds and some other songbirds start scouting for spring nest boxes in February.
• Use deicing salt sparingly. Sweep excess salt off the pavement as soon as it has dried. Some newer salt products are less damaging to plants, but still need to be used with care. Read some inspiring garden books.
• Read some inspiring garden books.
Gaze out the window, imagining the banks of flowers, delicious garden stir fries and iced herb teas to come, but enjoy the rest that winter brings.