Do you make New Year Resolutions? Most likely it is just a fun thing to do. These are things we would like to do but never seem to get a round to doing. Well, I have a half dozen New Year Resolution we can do and they should be fun.
1. Plant lots of pansies - With possible cold winter days ahead this seems so very reasonable to me. Actually any plant in the viola group will do. These keep smiling during frosts and freezes. Here are some more survivors that don't mind the cold; petunias, snapdragons, dianthus, and dusty miller. But of all, the pansies and Johnny-jump-ups are the cold weather winners.
2. Grow lots of what your family likes to eat - Now I don't expect to grow everything but almost everyone has a little room to plant some favorite vegetables. During cold weather broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions can withstand the lower temperatures. You can add to this list radishes, beets, carrots, and collards plus others for this time of the year. Now is also the time to be thinking of tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers for March plantings. And don't forget all the herbs for seasoning. These all love winter.
3. Reuse your leaves - We love to gather the leaves and turn them into mulch. In fact we are raking leaves from our neighbor's yard and can't wait until residents start setting out the bags of leaves for pickup. They make great mulch for the garden and can be turned into compost too. One warning is if you use fresh leaves mixed with your soil you do need to add extra fertilizer. The decomposing leaves ties up the nutrients the plants need for growth. But they do build good soil and eventually return the nutrients for plant growth.
4. Water only when you have to - There is no need to water lawns, trees, shrubs and similar plants more than once a week at this time of the year. Many could actually go for two weeks or so without the extra water. This is a low water use time of the year. Save the water and save your money too. Only vegetables, annual flowers and some perennials may need extra waterings.
5. Try some new plants - When you see pretty plants at the garden center give them a try. You do not have to buy a lot of anyone - plant just a few. Some of the great plants like Amazon lilies, California poppies, blackberry lilies, fringe trees, stocks and more are over looked. If you are not familiar with these do a Google search and check them out for planting in your yard.
6. Use the low toxicity pesticides first - Most times you can use pesticides that are today called natural products to eliminate both insects and diseases in the landscape. Many companies have added a line of products that are of a low toxicity. Some include the horticultural oils, insecticidal soap, naturally derived Bacillus and spinosad insecticides and copper containing fungicides. Check out the labels or get some advice from your local University of Florida Extension office. They are my first line of defense in the garden and landscape.
- Large tan circular spots in lawns are likely due to the brown patch a fungus.
- Brown patch affected lawns should recover; apply a fungicide to prevent further damage.
- Lawns can still make growth during the winter; continue to water and mow as needed.
- Once a week watering is the rule and normally adequate at this time of the year.
- Mow lawns to keep a uniform look; do not change blade height.
- Feeding time is over until late winter for lawns.
- Try regreening yellow lawns with an iron or minor nutrient application if needed.
- Many warm season weeds have turned brown; remove and resod these areas.
- Fill in bare spots with sod or plugs; delay seeding of permanent grass until spring.
- Ryegrass can be seeded to temporarily regreen brown turf or fill bare areas.
- Spot kill patches of persistent winter weeds with a selective herbicide for your lawn type.
- Winter is a good time to add hardy trees, shrubs and vines to the landscape.
- Make sure root balls are moist at planting time: add a berm to direct water through root balls.
- Winter through spring is our dry time; renew mulch layers to conserve moisture.
- Leaves are falling from trees and shrubs; use as mulch or add to the compost pile.
- January is a good time to begin yearly pruning of trees and shrubs.
- Trim dead or declining portions from trees and shrubs.
- Schedule major tree trimming now to be ready for severe 2019 weather.
- Crape myrtle grooming can begin this month; remove only the seed heads and small twigs.
- Remove dead fronds and old seed heads from palms but keep the good green leaves.
- Keep actively growing plants moist to remain green and attractive.
- Once a week watering or less is usually adequate for established deep-rooted plants.
- Replant declining flower beds and planters with hardy cool season selections.
- Container gardens are a good way to enjoy plants in the landscape.
- Add hanging baskets of color where they can be easily seen.
- Feed container gardens weekly if needed for growth; in ground annual plantings monthly.
- Groom landscapes by edging beds and walkways.
- 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.
- Install micro-sprinklers to conserve water and water only where needed.
- Groom hanging baskets and planters by removing old flowers and lanky stems.
- Protect orchids and tropical foliage plants from temperatures below 45 degrees.
- Test soil acidity in azalea, philodendron and ixora plantings and adjust if needed.
- Dig and move trees and shrubs from one area of the landscape to another.
Vegetable and Fruit Gardening:
- Only one month is left for cool season plantings; add seeds or transplants to the garden.
- Make plantings of potatoes from seed pieces available at garden centers.
- Feed winter vegetables and herbs every 3 to 4 weeks or use a slow release fertilizer.
- Lingering warm season crops are not going to be good producers: remove, replant in spring.
- Start seeds of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in early January for March transplants.
- Prepare spring planting sites by adding lots of organic matter to sandy soils.
- Encourage pollinators to visit by planting clusters of flowers among vegetables.
- Save shipping charges; locate seeds, bulbs and transplants locally.
- Store saved seeds in the refrigerator in a sealed container until planting time.
- Add bird netting to strawberry plantings.
- Caterpillars are common cool season pests; control by handpicking or natural sprays.
- Repair grape arbors and trellises.
- Harvest herbs and start new plants to have a continual supply.
- Prune apple, grape, peach, pear and fig plantings.
- Plant hardy fruit trees, shrubs and vines.
- An acid soil is needed for blueberry production; have your soil tested before planting.
- Cloth covers, loose hay, and boxes may be needed for winter protection of some crops.
Indoor & Foliage Plant Care:
- Make a New Year resolution to add air purifiers to the home with fresh foliage plants.
- Keep existing plants a lot longer by giving them at least weekly care.
- Check foliage plants brought indoors from the landscape for pests.
- Use a mild soapy solution to wash indoor foliage to remove dust and control pests.
- Trim off yellow leaves and declining flower stalks.
- Move declining plants into the higher light levels.
- Water foliage plants when the soil dries to the touch.
- Move holiday gift plants to the patio to enjoy during warm days.
January Plantings 2019
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.