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Tom's Monthly Gotta-Do's


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Just a little walk in my yard finds lots to do. I have empty pots, dead plant portions and beds full of weeds. Does this sound familiar? It is easy to let the landscape deteriorate but it’s a new year and an opportunity for us to do better. Make a New Year’s Resolution to make a little more time for your landscape and keep it more attractive. That is what I am doing.

My first project is a new storage area for containers. I have a hard time tossing any away. Someday they will all be put to use and until then they need a good neat storage area. Some new storage shelves are in the works. Also, I need a better area to store soil. It needs to be covered and out of the way a bit. This is going to be taken care of too.

Now on to the flower beds. They are untidy, need weeding and some replacements. The ground is going to be tilled and the weeds removed. Then it is off to the garden center for some new replacements. At first annuals are going to give these areas winter color and when spring arrives there are going to be some long-lived perennials added. Don’t forget the mulch to help keep the weeds down too.

Lastly it’s time to brighten the empty containers. Some have declining flowers or greenery still present. Fill them with seasonal color. I am thinking petunias and dusty miller. These are great contrasting plants that can take the cold too. If you want something even more hardy, try pansies and dusty miller.

Do get out in the landscape and enjoy the fresh air and exercise. I am sure you can find other things to do too in my Gotta Do list below.

Tom's Gotta Do's for January, 2013:

Lawn care:

- Many lawns have dry areas; check the irrigation system and rewet dry spots to renew growth.
- A once a week thorough watering is normally adequate at this time of the year.
- It is easy to spot the brown warm season weeds; remove and resod these areas.
- Feeding time is over until late winter for lawns.
- Try regreening yellow lawns with an iron or minor nutrient application if needed.
- Mow lawns as needed to give a uniform look, mulch leaves and control weeds.
- Spot kill patches of persistent winter weeds with a selective herbicide for your lawn type.
- Fill in bare spots with sod or plugs; delay seeding of permanent grass until spring.

Landscape chores:

- Cool weather is a good time to perform needed yard care.
- Remove dead fronds and old seed heads from palms but keep the good green leaves.
- Trim dead or declining portions from small trees and shrubs.
- Schedule needed large tree trimming now to be ready for severe 2013 weather.
- Crape myrtle grooming can begin this month; remove only the seed heads and small twigs.
- Renew mulch layers by adding a light new topping.
- Edge landscape beds and walkways.
- Feed container gardens weekly if needed for growth; in ground annual plantings monthly.
- Divide and replant perennials.
- Learn what plants need winter protection; many benefit from the cold.
- Only protect cold sensitive plants from frosts and freezes.
- Thick fabric covers secured to the ground are the best cold protection.
- Outdoor lights maybe added for heat if they don’t touch the covers.
- Protect orchids and tropical foliage plants from temperatures below 45 degrees.
- Groom hanging baskets and planters by removing old flowers and lanky stems.
- Move holiday gift plants to the patio during warm days.
- Dig and move trees and shrubs from one area of the landscape to another.
- Place bird houses, feeders and baths in the landscape.

Vegetable and Fruit Gardening:

- Remove declining warm season and early maturing cool season crops.
- Plant the cool season vegetables and herbs your family enjoys.
- Start seeds of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in early January for the spring garden.
- Water only when needed; install soaker hoses or micro-sprinklers to water the gardens.
- Plant clusters of flowers among vegetables to bring pollinators into the garden.
- Save shipping charges; locate seeds, bulbs and transplants locally.
- Prepare spring planting sites by adding lots of organic matter to sandy soils.
- Feed winter vegetables and herbs monthly.
- Prune apple, grape, peach, pear and fig plantings.
- Plant new fruit trees, shrubs and vines.
- Turn fallen leaves into compost.

Indoor Plant Care:

- Move temperature sensitive plants back from the window during the cold weather.
- Keep holiday plants through winter with adequate water and monthly feedings.
- Trim off yellow leaves and declining flower stalks.
- Move declining plants into the higher light levels.
- Add new foliage plants to the home.
- Use a mild soapy solution to wash indoor foliage to remove dust and control pests.
- Remove bulbs from the refrigerator after their cold treatment for forcing.
- Water foliage plants when the soil dries to the touch.

January Plantings

Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, endive, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onion sets, peas, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, roquette, rutabagas, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.

Herbs: Anise, bay laurel, cardamom, chives, coriander, fennel, garlic, ginger, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, thyme and watercress.

Flowers: Alyssum, baby’s breath, calendula, California poppy, cleome, candytuft, carnation, delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, foxglove, gaillardia, geranium, godetia, hollyhock, Iceland poppy, lobelia, nasturtium, ornamental cabbage & kale, pansy, petunia, Shasta daisy, statice, stock and sweet pea.

Bulbs: African iris, Asiatic lilies, amaryllis, blood lilies, bulbine, crinum, day lilies, Louisiana iris, society garlic, spider lilies, rain lilies, refrigerated Dutch iris, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths for forcing.

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