Ten garden activities for January

by CHRIS WINSLOW

1. General care of garden.  Your existing landscape and trees need some attention. If you haven’t done it already, I know your trees would appreciate a good, deep watering, especially since we’ve had so little rain since way back in September. Water your landscape shrubs and groundcovers too.

2. Turn off sprinklers. Automatic lawn sprinklers should be set at a minimum or simply turn them off. (Turf grass is dormant.)

3. Plant a tree. There is still time. Maybe you purchased a living tree for the holidays. Find that perfect spot, plant it and water it in.

4. Perennial pruning. The holiday cold spell should have frozen back all perennials. Cut your native and adaptive perennials back to a few inches above the ground and mulch. Mixing some organic compost with the mulch will assure some nutrition to build beautiful new growth this spring.

5. Prepare spring vegetable garden. I would recommend the solarization method to get rid of weeds. Till your garden with a mechanical tiller or a garden spade and water the area thoroughly. Cover with a clear plastic film and secure the perimeter with rocks or soil. The sun will raise the temperature in the garden soil to levels that will kill weeds and seeds. Allow the film to stay on for a month to six weeks. When removed, your garden will be weed free.

6. Catalog browsing. Find a comfortable armchair and get to work! January is a good time to look through garden and seed catalogs to decide on varieties you want to grow this year. Starting a garden journal is a simple way to keep track of what you plant and what has been successful.

7. Plant asparagus. Now is the time to prepare beds and plant. Three-year asparagus crowns will arrive in local nurseries early this month. Beds should be dug deeply and filled with rich organic compost. Three-year crowns will put you closer to harvest than seed grown.

8. Onions are still possible. You still have the opportunity to produce large onions this year. Also you can plant turnips, collards and radishes.

9. Prune your shrubs. Cut them back, but avoid any that will bloom in the spring. (Prune them after they bloom.)

10. Plant a fruit tree. Many fruit tree varieties will arrive in local nurseries this month, and in February and March. Try apples, peaches, plums, persimmons and pears.

Happy gardening everyone!

If you have a gardening question, send it to me via email:  iathyme@yahoo.com. (Please put ‘Ask Chris Winslow’ in the subject line.) Or mail your letter or postcard to: Ask Chris Winslow. It’s About Thyme: 11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748

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