Friday, January 6, 2017

January in the Garden

January a wonderful month in deep south Texas to spend time in your garden!  But when we get 80 degree days like earlier this week, we're tempted to jump the gun on some garden tasks.  Here's a guide for January Garden Tasks in our area.  

  • Gather and shred your fallen leaves.  They can easily be shredded with a mower or an inexpensive leaf shredder.   I have an electric leaf shredder, like the one pictured, that is indispensable this time of year.   The shredded leaves can then either be composted or used as mulch, where they will help suppress weed seed from sprouting and cool the soil during the summer. I have heard people say not to use live oak leaves because they contain too much tannin and tannin keeps the leaf from breaking down.   If you shred your leaves, they will decompose just fine.   Much to my husbands dismay, I am a proud leaf rustler.  I try to keep the back of my car empty so that I can pick up any bagged leaves that have been left at the curb.   You just can't have too many shredded leaves.
  • Water only as needed.   Much of the landscape will be dormant and will not be using much water.   But dry cold fronts, high winds, and low humidity can dry your plants quickly so check them regularly.   Water an established lawn only every 10 days or two weeks.    
  • Be prepared to protect your tender vegetation from any freezing temperatures that we may get. Go here to read more about this. 

  • Trees and Shrubs:   All trees, including fruit, with the exception of citrus.   This is also a good time to plant non-tropical shrubs.  
  • Vegetables:  broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard, collards, kale, leaf lettuce, leeks, onion (plants, not seeds), parsley, potato, radish, spinach, and turnips.  
  • Herbs:  basil, dill, fennel, mint (in a pot to contain the roots), rosemary, rue, thyme.   A frost will harm  your basil so it is best in a pot which can be brought in during inclement weather.  
  • Flowers from Seed or Bulbs:  alyssum, amaryllis bulbs, calendulas, calla lillies, petunia, larkspur, poppy, stock, calendulas.     Some say you can still plant bluebonnets and nasturtium seed but, in my experience, those are best planted in October.
  • Flowers from Transplants:   pansies, petunias, alyssum, dianthus, snapdragons, and violets
  • Rose bushes
Vegetable Planting Date Sources:  Texas Extension Service and the Old Farmers Almanac 

FERTILIZE:   Citrus trees that are at least 3 years old, your annuals and vegetables.  Do not fertilize tropicals right now; let them rest. 

  • Landscape trees.  Most established landscape trees will require a certified arborist to properly and safely prune. 
  • Peaches, figs, and other fruit trees.  I prune to remove dead wood, to shape the tree. and to keep it a size where I can reach the fruit.   We are going to plant a mango and an avocado tree and I am going to try to prune them shorter so their fruit is accessible.   I never wanted to grow them before because they get so tall, I felt like I'd be growing the fruit for the possoms, racoons, and other vermin.   
  • Do not prune your shrubs yet.   Some of our worst cold snaps (and ice storms) have arrived in February.     

Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.         

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