January in the Garden
Please come visit us at The Natural Gardener for the most comprehensive advice, plants, and organic gardening supplies appropriate to our area and the current season.
Start tomato & pepper seeds indoors
Tomatoes can be planted with care as early as late February, and peppers when it warms a little more. This is the month to get your transplants started from seed.
Lay out seed potatoes
Potatoes get planted in February, around President’s Day, but they need to be cut and set out to dry beforehand. Read our Potato Guide.
Prepare gardens for spring
Fill new beds with a good organic garden soil, and amend existing beds with 1-2” of compost. Once your soil is ready, add a high nitrogen fertilizer to the top two inches of the soil at the rate of 1lb per 30sqft. When you plant, toss a little bone meal or other source of phosphorus into the hole so that it touches the roots of your new transplants. You can use seaweed every time your new plants need water — it’s a great natural root stimulator and anti-stressor for plants. If you’ve had a vegetable garden for a few years now, have a soil test done. It’ll help you determine which amendments to add and what to avoid. Your plants will be healthier and it may even save you money in the long run. We do not do soil testing, see optional facilities.
Feed existing asparagus, strawberries, and other cool-weather veggies and annuals with a balanced organic fertilizer. Solid fertilizer can be scratched into the soil surface at the beginning of the month, or liquid fertilizers can be applied once a week while watering.
Water deeply, especially before freezes
If we’re not getting adequate rainfall, continue to water your lawn and any other plants that require supplemental water. Water the soil, not the leaves. Dry plants are more likely to suffer freeze damage than well-watered ones, but plants use less water when temperatures are cool. Be careful not to overwater and always check soil moisture levels before watering. Protect new transplants and tender plants with sheets or row cover.
Prevent spring weeds with corn gluten
Buy corn gluten early in the month and have it ready to spread on your lawn and flower beds to help control spring weeds. Corn gluten is a natural, pre-emergent herbicide that’s an earth-friendly alternative to highly toxic “weed-n-feed” products. It works by preventing germination of weed seeds, so you’ll want to apply it as soon as we get our first sunny, spring-like days. Read more on corn gluten.
Spray fruit trees with dormant oil
Dormant oil is a non-toxic and very effective control for plum curculio, scale and other over-wintering pests and their eggs. Fruit trees, and any plant with a current infestation of scale, should be sprayed two or more times with dormant oil over the winter. View our guide on Fruits, Nuts, & Berries.
Last chance to grapes, fruit trees, and other plants
The weather warms up and buds begin to break in February, so next month it’ll be too late! Proper pruning is important to the health and production of your trees so be sure to educate yourself before you begin. Read a good reference book, or consult an arborist to learn proper pruning techniques for your particular trees. Shear evergreen hedges as needed. Hardy herbs like oregano, rosemary, savory, and thyme will also benefit from a late-winter haircut.