Find something new to try in your garden, something just suited to that sunny corner or shady pine straw island. Order a grow light and see if you can start some of your vegetable seedlings indoors and get a jump on spring. This is also the time to work on the hard structure in the garden. Get that retaining wall built or construct the grape arbor you’ve been planning. Work out scale drawings on graph paper and plan both hardscape and plantings. Don’t forget to leave enough room for the plant as large as it will be in several years, not just when you put the seedling in the ground.
Order seeds and seed starting equipment. Start seeds for early spring plants, such as broccoli, collards, cabbage and onions, for transplanting to the garden in March. Make sure all your equipment is in good working order.
Order potatoes to plant 2-4 weeks before last frost.
Keep harvesting greens, such as arugula, collards, turnips, mustards, bok choy and spinach.
Plant hardy English peas outdoors late in the month.
It takes lime several weeks to break down and become usable to the plants, so apply lime now to parts of the garden that need it (get a soil test kit or send soil to the county extension). Keep lime off blueberries and areas where potatoes will be planted.
Also apply well rotted manure and/or compost to the garden now. It takes a few weeks to break down into usable nutrients.
Make sure perennial beds are well mulched, especially over the crowns of tender plants. Rake the mulch back before March.
Perennials may be moved now and wildflower seeds may be sown.
Prepare beds for bare root or container grown roses by spading 12 inches deep in an area four feet square for each plant. Add plenty of organic matter if it’s a newly dug bed.
During open weather, sow hardy annuals such as larkspur, sweet peas and corn flowers.
Also, on a sunny day, fertilize pansies and ornamental cabbage with a product that contains “nitrate nitrogen,” the best kind of fertilizer for growing plants in cool soil.
If salt is used on the driveway, make sure to keep it off the lawn and plants nearby. Better yet, use calcium chloride or potassium chloride instead.
Spread manure on the lawn to address thin patches. Fescue may be sown now.
Warm season grasses, such as St. Augustine, zoysia and centipede, need no particular care this month.
Trees & Shrubs
If there is an ice storm, do not try to remove ice from leaves or branches. You will likely break off branches and damage the plant more than the ice will.
Fruit trees and other deciduous trees and shrubs can be pruned when dormant. January is also a good time to prune evergreens if they need it as the pine bark beetles are dormant and won’t be attracted to the fresh sap.
Write or call your extension office for publications on how to prune and care for fruit trees and other plants. There are also how-to’s on the Home Depot website for many gardening projects.
Winter cuttings can be rooted from fig trees or other woody plants. Shrubs and trees can also be moved or newly planted now.
Chop invasives like privet, kudzu, bamboo and English ivy to the ground and follow with weed killer in April when new growth starts.