Please feed the birds and provide them with unfrozen water. If there is snow on the ground and you don’t have a feeder, a simple piece of plywood, a scrap of carpet or even cardboard will create a very good feeding area. It’s easy to clean. Just turn it over if it happens to get covered by a fresh snowfall.
We had a few warm days in December and if some bulbs got the foolish idea that spring was coming, add a little compost and a thick layer of mulch to protect the tender new growth. This is an excellent use for the branches of your discarded Christmas tree or from freshly pruned evergreens.
In the event of snow, be sure to shake or brush it off the branches of your evergreens and shrubs. The light fluffy snow poses no real threat, but if it should become wet and frozen, the weight dramatically increases. Branches are more brittle when the plants are dormant, and the weight of the snow may snap them off.
Dormant spraying of fruit trees, Cotoneaster, dogwoods, etc. should be done this month.
It’s a good time to prune most of your deciduous trees and shrubs.
Forsythia, Jasmine and Quince sprays can be cut and brought into the house now for forcing. The warmth in the home will bring some early bloom to your room.
Fireplace ashes should be saved to use as fertilizer for your Iris and other alkaline soil plants.
Don’t forget your house plants! Dust on the foliage can clog the leaf pores, so clean them up a little with a damp cloth or a quick shower under the tap. Actively growing plants will benefit from a shot of liquid plant food. For those that are still blooming, feed every other time with a diluted solution of fertilizer. I use ¼ strength. Don’t feed house plants which are dormant.
On very cold nights, it is a good time to close the curtains or blinds between the window and your house plants. Make certain that your plants have sufficient humidity, by setting them on a tray filled with clean pebbles, and a little water, or by simply setting a cup of water nearby.
Keep a close eye open for insects on your house plants.
This month you can force hyacinth, paper white narcissus, and lily of the valley bulbs into bloom indoors in a shallow bowl of water or in pots. If you can’t have spring yet…. fake it!
Extra time this month might well be spent getting the garden tools ready for spring. Sharpen and oil tools such as shovels, shears, mowers and the like. Power tools such as weed-eaters and power mowers may benefit from a good tune-up. If you are so inclined, the wheelbarrow could use a fresh coat of paint.
It’s not too early to begin to think of a strategy for new spring plantings. You might want to create a small map of your garden, and use it as a guide for ordering plants and seeds from the catalogs which will be arriving in the mail soon.
Sow seeds for hardy spring-blooming plants.