January Gardening Chores
January is the one month when a gardener can sit back and do some of the most important work: planning. Our rapidly-changing climate is challenging the traditional gardening chores so this year I will be including more recommendations on how to prepare for our changing growing conditions in USDA Hardiness Zone 6A, formerly USDA Hardiness Zone 5B.
According to US Department of Agriculture, the Hardiness Zones are based on the average annual minimum winter temperature divided into 10-degree F zones, which give a range of temperatures for a certain plant or tree. The hardiness zones for the Midwest fluctuate more than other zones but average Zones 4,5 and 6.
The zones for Missouri can be found here: https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
1. Review your garden diary from last year. Underline items you want to get done this year. I also carry over the ones I didn’t get to last year, or drop them off the master list. This is a good time to dream.
2. Identify what plants you want to add this year and note what soil and sun requirements they will need. Focus on adding native plants. Once established, native plants will be low care and excel in local soil and weather conditions.
3. Plan on expanding flowerbeds to start removing grass from your property. Expanding flowerbeds will give you areas to plant vegetables as well as flowers and provide more food for pollinators. One way to start expanding flowerbeds is to place cardboard along the existing flowerbed edge and then move the flower bed border early spring. Mulch on the cardboard will keep the garden looking nice and help restore healthy soil conditions.
4. Order catalogs you have used in the past and share catalogs you don’t need or use. One of my favorites is the Missouri Wildflowers Nursery Native Plants catalog, it has lovely pictures with a quick guide on what growing conditions native plants require and they offer great plant starts. www.mowildflowers.net
5. Order locally-adapted seed catalogs. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is a favorite seed catalog from Mansfield, Missouri. www.rareseeds.com.
6. Read. Whether it’s Missouri Gardener Magazine, which provides good local gardening information and new gardening books, catch up on what you couldn’t get to last year.
7. Remove any broken limbs in pathways to keep walkways clear and safe.
8. Don’t walk on frozen lawns.
9. On warm days, pile mulch and leaves on garden beds if they’ve been blown off by winter winds.
10. Check inside plants for any hitchhiking bugs and remove. Make sure they are getting their sunlight needs met. If not, move them. Water with diluted fertilizer. Prune as necessary.
11. Drop your garden pruners and other garden tools off to get sharpened.
12. Start scouting where you can install rain barrels and totes to collect rain water off your gutter system.
13. Push heaved plants gently back into soil. Make sure to add mulch around these plants.
14. Water newly-planted chrysanthemums so they can get their roots established.