It’s January — what’s a gardener to do?

By Marilyn McKinley

Master gardener volunteer

If you’re a gardener, you might think January is just for dreaming about what’s to come in a few short months. Think again. There’s tons of work to do. By doing just a few things each week, you’ll be ready for spring and ahead of schedule — and you’ll outshine all the other gardeners in your neighborhood.

Here’s a list of need-to-be-done things that there never seems to be time for when spring finally comes back to Northeast Ohio. It should keep you busy and in the gardening frame of mind.

Start your garden journal. You might want to include garden plans or a wish list. Better yet, blog.

Sketch out your vegetable garden, remember to rotate crops.

Check stored bulbs, tubers and corms. Toss any that are moldy or wilted.

Wrap trees to prevent rabbit or deer damage.

Research a new plant you’ve been wanting to try.

Learn to decode those seed catalogs and seed packages.

Work on garden “art” projects.

Feed and provide water for birds. Make some homemade suet ball or coat a pine cone in peanut butter and roll in birdseed.

Avoid walking on “crunchy” grass.

Check left over seeds; test for germination.

Clean garden tools and pots, sharpen hand tools, tune up power tools.

Spread fireplace ashes on alkaline-soil-loving plants, such as lilacs, peonies and clematis.

Plan a new flower or herb bed.

Purchase herb plants and keep on a window sill.

Check on and cut back geraniums you’re overwintering.

Paint handles of garden tools a bright color.

Make a terrarium.

Check perennials; if any have heaved, gently push down.

Clean salty clay pots. Soak in vinegar to remove salt, rinse and let dry. Then soak in a 1-to-9 dilution of bleach to water.

Coat your show shovel with “no stick” cooking spray.

Go shopping at garden centers. You may find some great off-season deals. Check favorite online sites too.

Replenish needed garden supplies.

Force narcissus and hyacinth bulbs.

Order seeds.

Reduce fertilizing houseplants.

Marilyn McKinley is a Mahoning County master gardener volunteer and Ohio certified volunteer naturalist.

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