Happy New Year! Are you itching to dig in the dirt? I know I am! But it’s just too cold to stay outside for any great length of time without the help of some serious layers. Also, it’s tough to work with soil that’s frozen! But, in spite of all that, I’m offering you some January Winter garden tips.
First, all is not lost. January is a great time of year to DREAM! Think of great ideas in the garden! It’s fun to let the imagination run wild. This sets the stage for your inspiration in the warmer season.
It is also a great time to take stock and evaluate many things. Lots of us are decluttering our homes, doing month-long “Challenges,” or just reorganizing our lives. These January Winter garden tips can be useful in keeping your garden alive, even if it’s only in your heart for the time being.(Yes, those are my purple seed potatoes!)
JANUARY WINTER GARDEN TIPS
If you save seeds every year, now is a good time to go through them.
- Look at what you already have and decide what you would like to plant this coming season.
- If you haven’t got a good container for them, find a box and label it accordingly. Shoe boxes work great.
- Then, alphabetize them. I even try to separate the flowers from the food seeds. Some things overlap, however, especially herbs.
- Create a Master List of your Seed Inventory. (I create a document on the computer and update it every year. This way I don’t have to re-write or re-type everything repeatedly.)
- Store your seeds in a cool, dry place. I keep mine in my refrigerator! (It really doesn’t take up much space. But if you have huge quantities of seeds, you may need to store them in a large bin in your cellar or basement.)
Organize Your Seed Catalogs
Don’t you love these? Oh my gosh, I could spend hours looking through them! One of my favorites has great little stories and anecdotes throughout the catalog, along with drawings and sketches of the various plant types.
Joel and I sit together looking at these catalogs and read descriptions to each other out loud. One year we ordered 19 trees because of this. And, as Joel was digging one of the holes he said, “I hope I get to eat some of this fruit before I die.”
Yes, sometimes fruit trees take a few, or many, years to produce. But we have not lost our hope or faith! We shall keep you informed as to their progress. (UPDATE – We got 6 pears after 4 years’ growth. There were also a few handfuls of cherries. No other fruit yet, but we still have 8 healthy, mature apple trees that give us lots of other fruit, plus we have berries.)
- Dog-ear pages, circle and scribble to your heart’s content. This dream-phase is the fun of it all!
- Make lists of the seeds you wish to add to your garden this year to complement the seeds you already have.
- If you’re feeling super-ambitious, chart the amount of time it takes for each type of seed to germinate and harvest. This can save you tons of guesswork later on!
One of our favorite seed catalogs is Fedco Seeds. This is not sponsored. We just like the quality and the service.
Create Your Garden Plan
Now that you have your seed inventory and your seed-order-wish-list….
- Chart out your garden. You can use paper and pencil or a garden planning app, or both. (I usually scribble ideas on graph paper and then go to the computer to get a neat-looking plan.)
- When you do this, make use of your Seed Inventory plus the lists you’ve made from your seed catalogs.
Clean and repair your garden tools
If you didn’t do this already in the fall, now is a really good time to clean and sharpen your tools.
- Clean everything thoroughly. I have a sink in my mudroom that works perfectly for this purpose. If you don’t have a “slop” sink, place a ragged towel in the bottom of your bathtub and go to town. A mild soap or dish detergent works well, along with a scrub brush and rag.
- Oil the places that need oil – hinges especially.
- Repair anything that needs to be fixed. If it is not repairable, it’s time to get rid of it.
- Make notes of what needs to be replaced.
Keep snow shoveled
This is ongoing.
- Look at it as fresh air and exercise. Among other reasons, we need to keep a path clear to get to the compost!
- Also, remember to view the snow as a blessing. A lot of good things happen in the dormant season.
- FARMHOUSE TIP – For drier, fluffy-type snow, use your outdoor broom and sweep your steps and pathways. Trust me, this works really well!
(On “nice” days) – If you didn’t quite finish your end-of-season cleanup, get out there if the weather permits.
- Even if you can only stand it for a few minutes, that is still enough time to grab some dead overgrowth and get it in the compost heap.
- Make sure you observe and notice what can be done on your next opportunity. (“nice” day)
Inventory your canning supplies
Not garden-related, you say? It sure is! This is part of preserving your HARVEST, and it is a great indoor activity which you can do in small chunks of time.
- If you are in the decluttering or organizing mode, this is a very satisfying accomplishment.
- Empty out all of your jars, lids, and seals.
- Take stock of your canner(s), funnels, tongs, and racks.
- Make sure everything is squeaky clean.
- If you have a lot of jars and supplies, an inventory list could come in handy in a few months.
Add Ashes to your Compost
Keep a little bucket next to your woodstove or fireplace.
- Whenever the situation presents itself, empty the ashes into your compost pile.
- This is an added incentive to keep your fireplace or woodstove area tidy and clean.
Add your own items to this list!
- Make changes as necessary. If you live in a warm climate, for example, perhaps the snow shoveling and ash-collecting tips won’t apply to you.
- Add things that make sense for your situation. Perhaps you can start seeds this time of year for planting out in early Spring. (It’s still much too early for me to do that!)
If you are afraid and feel you lack a “Green Thumb,” read this post, “No Green Thumb? No Problem!”
I’d love to hear how your winter is going! Feel free to leave a comment!
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Nice blog Wendy! Thanks for stopping by mine too. I finally got outside this past weekend and did some of the chores you mentioned here. I don’t have a wood heater or fireplace, but I do have an outdoor fire pit. I do add the ashed to my compost, but I might mention that you need to let them cool for TWO days, not just overnight before dumping them on dry leaves… just sayin’
Oh definitely! Our ashes are completely cool before we take them out. Thank you for sharing! Enjoy the wintertime.
Both my parents were from the Midwest! As for the grass seed, I guess it depends on the kind of grass you wish to grow. We are actually trying to replace our grassy areas with more of a “food forest.” Depending on how your bare spots are situated, could you plant a few patches of flowers, herbs, or berries? Thanks for the comment!
What are your favorite magazines and books for garden planning?
Writing from snowy Cincinnati – can’t wait to get back into my flower beds and garden!
I do understand! I love all my Permaculture Texts, and I just started with Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Course book. A favorite go-to is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, but my hands-down favorites are Carrots Love Tomatoes and Roses Love Garlic, both by Louise Riotte. (all about companion planting) For magazines, I love Mother Earth News. Hope that helps!
I can sooo relate to this! Gardening is my #1 passion and winter is sooooo long here in New England! I hate the cold so spend as little time out in it as possible, and can’t wait for spring!
Yes, even though the gardening season is short in these Northern areas, it’s worth the wait! 🙂
You have some amazing tips. I’m from the Southeast, so I know little about the snow, but I can relate to it being too cold to be outside. I enjoy gardening, but a green thumb, I do not have. I hoping to do a better job this year.
Thank you so much! And don’t give up hope. For encouragement and more gardening tips, see https://themountainfarmhouse.com/no-green-thumb-no-problem-gardening/. Have a blessed day!