by Leslie Cox; Wednesday; January 1, 2020

If you are anything like me, as soon as the holiday festivities are over and done with I am looking to get back into gardening. But after all the excess of the season, it is best to gently ease ourselves back into gardening shape.

With that in mind, here is a list of a few chores you can do now for getting into shape and getting a jump start on a brand new season.

In the garden:

  • If you have had any snowfalls, check your trees, shrubs, vines, and evergreen perennials for damage to frozen branches. Repair any broken ones that can be saved by taping the branch back into place. (We use electrical tape for our repairs, with success.) If the branch is seriously torn, use screws to bring the branch into position and then wrap tightly with tape.
  • Keep your bird feeders filled if there is snow on the ground. Otherwise, let the birds forage in your garden for seeds and insects. They are a great help in weed and pest control.
  • Pick up fallen branches and rake any leaves off the lawn and garden beds.
  • Check your hellebores. New flower buds should be appearing. Remove any remaining old or diseased leaves.
  • Check ponds periodically. Remove any decaying leaves to prevent hydrogen sulfide and methane gas levels from building up. Try not to worry about your goldfish…they hibernate quite well under the ice.
  • Start making a list of those projects you have in mind for the garden…an arbour for a climbing vine, repair grape arbour, build a new raised bed, etc.

In the vegetable garden:

  • Continue harvesting winter and any root vegetables still in the ground under cover.

In the greenhouse:

  • Check on the plants you are over-wintering from the elements. Water any that are excessively dry.
  • Check for possible insect infestations or diseases and treat immediately.

In the compost pile:

  • Turn the pile. Cold as it is, this will build up heat and destroy weed seeds.
  • Be sure to cover the pile so rain will not leach out precious nutrients.

In the tool shed:

  • Check over all your gardening equipment, if you have not done so already. Secateurs, pruners and hedgers need sharpening.

Indoors:

  • Check for decay on summer-flowering bulbs you have in storage.
  • Check your over-wintered tender perennials. Remove any leaves that are decaying and inspect plants carefully for aphids or other pests or disease.
  • Indoor plants do not need as much water during the colder months, so beware of over-watering.
  • Order the new seed catalogues from your favourite companies, or peruse them online. Start your garden wish list.
  • Organize your seed inventory. Check dates on seed packets and compare to the Seed Viability Chart. Throw out old packets…or if you are frugal, do germination tests on the older seeds to see if their germination rate is still reasonable. You should aim for a minimum of 40% seed germination. Make a list of the seed varieties you need to buy.

Seed sowing schedule:

First / second week:

  • If you like to grow yams, start sprouting your tubers this week, or next, to harvest in summer.