January To-Do List
- Check your leftover seeds and make a list of what you need before ordering.
- Order seeds and plants early to avoid substitution.
- Take cuttings from fruit trees for grafting in April. Wrap the twigs in a wet paper towel, seal the wrapped twigs in a plastic bag, and store the bag in the freezer until spring.
- Organize your seeds: Discard those that are too old; then make a list of seeds to order.
- Order seeds of onions, geraniums, and other slow-growing plants now so you receive them in time to start indoors next month.
- Draw your garden plan.
- Check the condition of your gardening equipment.
- Build a garden trellis.
- Surprise your friends by harvesting Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips from the garden during a January thaw.
- Start seeds of pansies, snapdragons, and hardy perennials.
- Replenish your supplies, including seed-starting mix and organic fertilizers.
- Where there isn't much snow cover, push back any plants that have "heaved" out of the ground because of freeze-thaw cycles.
- Start a collection of scented geraniums by taking cuttings from a friend's plants.
- If you're growing geraniums indoors in pots, cut back leggy stems by about half, repot the plants in fresh soil, and then set them in a cool, bright window.
- Study the "skeleton" of your landscape and decide where to put new structures, such as pathways and arbors.
- Keep bird feeders well stocked with favorites, such as black oil sunflower seeds.
- Discard old seeds for the garden; mail orders for new seeds.
- Create a computer database of your garden plants with notes on performance.
- Rake heavy snow off shrubs.
- Start seeds of pansies, dusty miller, browallia, begonias, snapdragons, and delphiniums indoors under lights.
- At month's end, start seeds of onions, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower indoors under lights.
- On mild days, remove winter weeds, such as wild onions and chickweed.
- Sow seeds of Shirley poppies (Papaver rhoeas) for bloom in May and June.
- Sow larkspur seeds directly in flowerbeds where you want them to grow; look for blooms by midspring.
- Indoors, start seeds of perennials or slow-growing annuals, like coleus and geraniums, beneath lights.
- Start seeds of cabbage, early lettuce, and at the end of the month, broccoli.
- When onion and cabbage transplants are available at the garden center, select the best ones, then plant them in the garden beneath a row cover.
- Near the end of the month, weed the asparagus bed and strawberry plot, then feed the plants and renew the thinning mulches.
- Shop local nurseries for asparagus roots, strawberry plants, and fruit trees.
- Cover root crops still in the ground with an extra layer of mulch.
- When cold temperatures are predicted, protect transplants of onions, cabbage, broccoli, and chard with a row cover.
- Sow beets, carrots, radishes, cress, bok choy, and garden peas directly in the garden; cover the planting rows with dark compost to warm the soil.
- Sow seeds of herbs, such as dill and parsley.
- Sow seeds of annual flowers (delphiniums, snapdragons, and larkspur are good choices) anywhere you want flowers for cutting or as a background for other plants.
- Top-dress lawns and garden beds with compost.
- Use the weather to your advantage: Observe the location of standing puddles left by winter rains; note where you need to improve drainage for plants.
- Finish pruning fruit trees, vines, and bushes.
- Sow seeds of geraniums, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant in pots filled with a peat moss/vermiculite mixture; set the pots on a sunny windowsill or beneath lights until it's warm enough to plant them outside.
- In the garden, "scratch in" wildflower seed mixes and California poppy seeds; plant nasturtium seeds a bit deeper.
- Set out transplants of pansies, calendulas, and primroses.
- As the soil warms, plant carrots, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, cilantro, parsley, and Asian greens.
- Harvest carrots, radishes, and Brussels sprouts—sweetened by frost.
- It's the dry season—water vegetable plants, nondormant tropical plants, and bedding plants regularly.
- Spray compost tea on roses and bromeliads.
- Mulch peas to extend the harvest.
- Sow pumpkins and winter squash directly in the garden; start cucumbers and watermelons in pots.
- Sow quick-maturing varieties of carrots, broccoli, cabbage, coriander, parsley, and dill.
- Plant heat-tolerant chicory, lettuce, and Swiss chard in shade so that they stay cool when the weather warms.
- Snip off flowers of tropical fruit and young citrus to save their strength while they grow; bring the flowers indoors to perfume the house.