January can be a tricky month for gardeners. On one hand, there is the potential for some wonderful gardening days; Cooler temperatures combined with soft, moist soil (and few distractions) and you have the winning ingredients in your gardening cocktail.
On the other hand, there is the rain. That pesky, persistent, cold winter rain drenches your garden and turns the soil to mud. Many gardeners see this rain, and resulting mud, as the bane of their gardening existence, but with a little bit of mud control in place, it’s easier to enjoy the garden.
The best materials to help with mud control are those that will sit above the surface of the ground even after being stepped on. Products such as Lane Forest Products Walk On Bark or Wood Chips are ideal candidates for surrounding your gardening beds and on your pathways. Applying 4”-6” of either of these materials will keep the mud off your feet and help suppress weed growth.
In case you’ve already laid down your mud control this year, here are a few other gardening tips for January.
Set your winter schedule for applying dormant sprays on roses. Treatments of Lime Sulfur or Copper Fungicides help control diseases. It is also important to clean-up diseased leaf debris from underneath plants.
Find a nice day to select primroses. Plant them in light shade or sun.
Remember the bulbs you planted in pots last fall? Crocus, early tulips, and narcissus showing any green shoots will bloom quickly in a sunny window.
Bare root roses will be arriving in garden centers later this month. You will find these are less expensive or of better quality than those from mail order sources or in discount stores.
Dispose of any stored vegetables that are showing signs of rot.
Have your garden soil tested for the proper pH. You can pick up a test kit at most garden centers in the area. If lime is needed, use this month to adjust your pH if necessary. Avoid tilling soil if too wet.
With seed racks going up in your favorite garden center this month, it’s time to start your planning!
Along with roses, fruit trees can be treated with a dormant spray this time of year. Applications of Lime Sulfur or Copper Fungicides will help control the spread of disease. Watch the forecast and apply during times of low wind and no rain.
January is a good time to start pruning your grapes. Remove most of the woody growth from the previous season. For more details about pruning grapes check out the OSU Extension site.
Bare root fruit trees will be in stores soon! Give us a call to check availability at our Corner Store location in Glenwood.
Indoor Plants & Herbs
For indoor plants, be sure to check to ensure soil isn’t completely dry. House plants will usually require less water and fertilizer during the winter months. They should be dust and pest free.
To extend the life of your holiday poinsettias protect them from cold, place in sunlight; don’t let leaves touch cold windows.
Check your lawn for moss, which could be an indication of a lack of sunlight or poor drainage.
Walking on a frozen lawn can damage the grass. Avoid walking on it until the frost has melted.
Various Jobs Around Your Oregon Garden
Heavy rains will make drainage issues obvious in your yard. Installing French drains may help correct these situations. In the long run, areas may need to be regraded or bioswales/rain gardens may need to be constructed.
Put slug bait out to catch those buggers early before they really multiply.
Have you started a garden journal? It’s a good idea to have throughout the year for reference. A journal is helpful in recalling which crops need to be rotated in your garden beds and what areas you’ve planted.
Wood ashes could be spread evenly on vegetable gardens. The OSU Extension Service makes the following application recommendations: “Use no more than 1.5 pounds/100 square feet/year. Don’t use if the soil pH is greater than 7.0 or if potassium levels are excessive.”
Protect new landscape plants from winter weather. Support them with stakes and ties as needed. In the Willamette valley, it’s if often necessary to tie limbs of columnar evergreens together to prevent breakage from snow/ice.
For disease and pest prevention yard sanitation is critical. Remove infected leaves, cut and remove spent perennial flowers, and remove weeds. Apply a couple of inches of mulch to help control weed regrowth and maintain a more stable soil temperature.
Even during times of rain or cold, plants in protected areas may need to be watered by hand. Cold weather can actually dehydrate container plantings in a hurry and the rain may not reach areas blocked by eves or patio structures.
Rodents are looking for a warm place to be during the winter. Check around bases of trees and large shrubs for any signs of nesting or damage. Keeping areas clean and weed free will reduce protected hiding places. Consider the use of traps or baits if necessary.
Snow and ice can build up quickly on trees and shrubs. Often a good shake will reduce the weight and prevent the plant from braking.
Especially in freezing conditions, provide birds with thawed water and food.
In the case of freezing rain or an ice storm, review our blog post Winter Garden First Aid for tips on handling frozen plants, trees, and shrubs.
Sources: LFP Website, OSU Extension Service and Portland Nursery