Jan. 2014 To Do List: Lower South

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building retaining wallAs you work on your New Year’s resolutions, take time to try something new in your garden, something just suited to that shady spot under the trees or the overgrown patch in the side yard. You might consider adding a water feature to your landscape, which could be as simple as a water bowl or as elaborate as a new pond, or set up a grow light to start seedlings indoors and get a jump on spring. This is also an opportunity to work on your hardscaping. Make plans for the retaining wall you’ve been needing, or add a grape arbor. Work out scale drawings on graph paper so you’ll be sure to leave room enough room for plants as well as any new structures.

  • ┬áSeeds for early spring vegetables, such as broccoli, collards, onions, and cabbages, can be transplanted into the garden in March, so order seeds and seed starting supplies now.
  • Check grow light bulbs to see if they need replacing. Lights can continue to glow even when they’re past their prime, causing plants to become tall and leggy or look faded.
  • Well rotted manure and compost should be added to the garden now. They will take a few weeks to break down and blend with your native soil.
  • Keep harvesting greens such as arugula, collards, turnips, mustards, spinach, and bok choy.
  • Plant hardy English peas outdoors late this month.
  • Make beds for bare root or container grown roses by digging 12″ deep in an area four feet square for each plant. Add lots of good organic matter if this is a newly dug bed.
  • Seeds of hardy annual flowers, such as larkspurs, cornflowers, and sweet peas, can go into the ground when the weather is fair. Avoid planting when the soil is wet or soggy.
  • If pansies and ornamental cabbages need a boost, feed them with a product containing nitrate nitrogen, the best kind of fertilizer for plants that grow in cool soils.
  • Avoid letting salts used on your driveway or walks scatter onto the lawn or nearby plants. Try using calcium chloride or potassium chloride instead.
  • Leave ice alone if it forms on leaves and branches during a storm. You will likely break the branches and damage the plant more than the ice will. You can knock off thick blankets of lightweight snow with a broom or rake if you are very careful.
  • Root winter cuttings from fig trees and other woody plants. Shrubs and trees may also be moved or newly planted now.
  • Prune fruit trees and other deciduous trees while they are still dormant. January is also a good time to prune evergreens. Pine bark beetles are dormant now, too, so they won’t be attracted to the fresh sap.

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