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January is a good month for garden planning – News – recordonline … – Times Herald

Q: I know it is winter, but I have been told that gardening is a year-round activity. What gardening tips can you offer for January? – Scott from Greenwood Lake 

A: January is a good month for gardening, at least on paper and in your mind, as you start the planning process for this year’s garden. A good place to begin looking for ideas is curled up on the coach with your favorite gardening magazine, books and seed catalogs. 

Here are some useful tips by gardening category to consider while planning. 

Plant and Seed Orders 

• Do not wait until late in the winter to order seeds and plants. Many varieties sell out early, especially new and unusual varieties. If you want the best selection, place orders early. 

• When reviewing your garden catalogs for new varieties to try, an important consideration is improved insect and/or disease resistance. They will reduce costs and reduce environmental pollution. Also watch for drought-tolerant types. 

• Check out new releases of old favorites when planning your flowerbeds. New hybrids are constantly being developed to offer more color choices or resistance to insects and diseases. 

• Some very tiny seeds such as begonias need to be sown in winter. Others, such as All-America winning coneflower PowWow Wild Berry, need to be sown at the end of January in order to bloom the first year from seed. 

• To determine how many seeds to order, map out your garden on graph paper, allowing adequate space between rows and ample room for vining crops such as pumpkins and winter squash. 

• You might want to plan your order with a gardener friend or neighbor, so you can sample more varieties as well as save on shipping costs. In addition, some seed companies offer discounts or free seeds for early bird and/or large orders. Just don’t order more than you can use. That’s where the notes you kept from past years will be useful. 

• Analyze last year’s planting, fertilizing and spraying records. Make notes to reorder successful varieties as well as those you wish to try again. 

Ice Melt 

• While snow makes a good protective cover for plants, if you use salt to melt ice on driveways or walkways, be careful not to pile snow from these areas on your plants or where melting snow will drain onto them. After the snow melts, flush the area around the roots exposed to salt with fresh water. 

• When using salt to melt ice on walks and driveways, spread it carefully to avoid damage to nearby shrubs. Consider using sand or sawdust instead. 

• Damage on needled evergreens will show as copper and yellow tints to foliage by spring. Deciduous plants will develop bronze or reddish leaves in the spring from salt damage. 

Gardening Education 

• Winter is a good time to sign up for gardening classes or seminars offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension, many libraries, garden centers and town recreation offices. Most gardeners love to talk about gardening and don’t mind sharing their methods. 

• Spend time browsing the garden section at your library or on the Internet. 

• Join a garden club. 

Pruning 

• When pruning large limbs, always undercut first. This means to cut from the bottom up, one-third of the way through the limb, then finish by cutting from the top. The undercut keeps the limb from splitting and breaking off, which could damage the trunk and become an entryway for insects and diseases. Do not cut flush to the trunk; the collar or enlarged base of a branch produces hormones that help heal wounds. 

Garden tools 

• If you have some time this winter, paint the handles of garden tools red or orange. This will preserve the wood and make the tools easier to locate next summer when you lay them down in the garden or on the lawn. 

• If you need to replace a tiller or want to add a few new gardening tools to your inventory, start comparison shopping in January. Some of this equipment won’t be available in garden centers for a few more months. But by studying catalogs and magazines, talking to friends, and surfing the Internet now, you will have a better idea of what you want and won’t waste valuable time in the spring. 

New landscape plans 

• This is a good time to get spring gardening ideas from magazines and catalogs, brush up on your gardening skills, and devise an improved landscaping plan. 

• The same goes for landscape plants. Start thinking about what you need to fill in any gaps in your landscape or what new plants you’d like to try. It may help to take a walk around your property to visualize where landscape improvements are needed or where you might put in a new flower bed. Think about color, scents, textures, and shapes. Then scout out companies that carry what’s on your wish list. 

• Study the winter landscape in the Arboretum gardens, your neighbors’ yards and community parks. Take photos of favorite natural scenes and do a little research to identify plants and grasses that create interest in winter gardens. Consider adding more plants with winter interest – evergreens, plants with attractive branching patterns or bark – to your landscape in the spring. 

 

This is the first part of a two-part column. Part two will appear in next Saturday’s Times Herald-Record. Debbie Lester is the community horticulture educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County.

 

Article source: http://www.recordonline.com/news/20170121/january-is-good-month-for-garden-planning