A happy list: January garden to-dos :)

Oh, Gentle Reader . . . it makes me happy to even think about getting started on this year’s garden, not to mention actually making my gardening to-do list and then πŸ™‚ taking action on all the happy plans and lists. I’ve read some favorite bloggers lately who are writing about ways to get through the winter with their sanity intact: using light boxes and getting exercise and eating right and drinking enough water and all–and as I read the suggestions, the answer comes quite naturally to me, to the question of how do I get through the next couple of months of winter? Simple.

Easy. I focus on things like this.

Easy. I focus on things like this.

YES drink your water and OF COURSE eat lots of whole grains and veggies, and DO get some exercise and BY ALL MEANS get outside a bit every day and take your vitamins: all this is great and healthy–but also get started on the garden, baby! It’s such an antidote to the “winter blues” or SAD or just the sluggishness that accompanies the shorter days and the cold.

Without further ado . . . let’s get to the list of things that I’m doing this January to prepare for my 2015 garden. I’m in Zone 5, so if you plan to use this list for your own guidelines, be sure to keep that in mind.

Also, Organic Gardening has a dandy list of its own, if you’d like to check it for your zone: it’s customizable.

Fresh eggs, onions, nettles, lambsquarters, parsley, mint: It's What's for Dinner.

Also, this: fresh eggs, onions, nettles, lambsquarters, parsley, mint: It’s What’s for Dinner.

Here’s what I’m planning to do this month, keeping in mind that tomorrow’s high is going to be 2ΒΊ (oh!) so all this will be done inside:

1. Replenish your supplies: as soon as they clear the Christmas stuff out of the stores, they fill up the shelves with gardening supplies, so this is as good a time as any to replenish your supplies, including seed-starting mix and organic fertilizers.

Hey, just a tip: IF you have outdoor cats and IF you like to mix up your own seed-starting mix, say, in the garage where the cats hang out and IF your ground outside is hard as a rock . . . ahh . . . you may want to keep that soft, loamy, sweet-smelling soil covered tight . . . πŸ™ . . . just a tip.

This is a happy errand: go to the store to buy gardening supplies! While you’re there, pick up the hand tools. Do you, perhaps, need a new bypass pruner? Or perhaps a new trowel? It feels good just to handle these things, doesn’t it? You don’t even have to buy them to feel quite encouraged.

2. Draw up a plan of last year’s garden (if you don’t already have such a thing) to remind yourself of what crops you had planted where. You don’t want to plant everything in the same spot this year, so you’ll also need to make a plan of the way you want this year’s garden to be. You need to rotate everything (so the soil isn’t depleted of the nutrients that each crop needs) and these plans will help you with the planning. Make little drawings. It’s fun. Enlist your children to help, if you’d like. Here’s a link to an article with some sweet ideas about garden design.

And don't forget the hoop house beds . . .

And don’t forget the hoop house beds . . .

3. Pull out last year’s seeds and organize them–make notes of which ones you have plenty of for this year (most seeds will last for years) and which ones you need to order.

4. Make a date with yourself--I usually schedule a good two-hour chunk out of an evening or two, or three–or more if I can get away with it!–I put it on the calendar, this is serious business, after all–to read through seed catalogs and make notes and see what’s new and choose what you’re going to order. Don’t wait until the last minute–many high-demand seeds (it took me two years of trying to finally get the seeds for the blue tomatoes I wanted so much, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) will sell out early.

5. Order a few new seed catalogs, if you don’t have enough of them. Here are a few of my favorites: (Click on the names to go to their websites to order your own catalogs).

6. Order any perennial crops that you want to put in this year. Rhubarb? Do you want to put in a few Blueberries? Raspberries? Asparagus? All-of-the-above??

And what's not to love?

YES it’s possible to grow them!

7. Start your ginger. This week I’ll stop at Trader Joe’s and pick up a basket of fresh ginger roots (they don’t treat them there to inhibit sprouting, you know) and then I’ll soak them in warm water overnight, and then I’ll plant them in damp peat moss. It takes some time, but my ginger-growing experiment last year was a success. But you have to get started at it early because ginger is a very–slow–grower.

8. Start seeds of pansies, snapdragons, and hardy perennials in flats in the house. Keep them damp until they germinate, and then put them under lights during the day, or in a very sunny window.

sweet peas, glads, zinnias, cosmos

Remember these? Sweet peas, glads, zinnias, cosmos

9. Start collecting some things. Check this post in the archives for suggestions on this. You’ll feel so clever when it’s spring and you have everything you need to dive in headfirst to your garden . . . er. . . figuratively speaking.

There ya go, Gentle Reader! Happy, happy, happy garden planning! πŸ™‚


22 thoughts on “A happy list: January garden to-dos :)

  1. Doree Weller

    You’ve inspired me… thank you! I live in Zone 8, so there’s no reason I shouldn’t have already been doing this stuff. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, so no matter the weather, I don’t start to feel spring until March or April. But the links you got me excited, and I have no excuse not to get started!

  2. Gene

    Hey Amy –
    #1. Read Ben’s blog today! It is about writing and I am 99.44% certain that you will love it.
    #2. Last year I had my intern do some research and come up with a list of companies that principally sell organic/open pollinated/heirloom seeds via the internet. (Most also have print catalogs.) If you think your readers would get some value out of that list, I will be happy to send it to you. Hmmm – how would I do that? Just send it as an attached doc (it is an Excel spreadsheet) to your regular email address.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Gene, you are a friend nonesuch. #1. I always love Ben’s blog, but I will make a special effort to skedaddle over there and read it today. 99.44%, eh? I wonder if you couldn’t be a bit more precise. πŸ˜‰ #2. THank you thank you, thank you! *smooch* I got the list and will try to figure out some way to share it with my readers. And thank you, in advance, from them, too!

  3. Alana(@RamblinGarden)

    This post was so timely – the renewal notice for our community garden plot came in the mail today. I second your seed catalog selection. (I’d like to see Gene’s list, too) And, happy your ginger experiment worked. We were successful in year #2 of growing ginger in upstate New York – I just forgot to blog about it.

  4. Snarky Momma With

    Amy, I enjoyed reading your post even though I am the last person you would want near your garden. I have the blackest thumb around. I once killed an air fern. My latest attempt at gardening it still alive only because the only contact I have with it was purchasing the plant our local store and putting in the window and asking my husband to take over from there. We now have two herbs struggling to survive through the winter sun. It has been three months so I am fairly proud that my very presence did not kill them. Good posting.

    Snarky Momma With

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      It’s a mental health exercise for me, Dora: or maybe I’m just shutting out reality (below-zero windchills, frozen ground, wicked wind whipping around the house:brrrrr!!). I’m a Reality-Shutter-Outer.

  5. Hilary De Freitas

    You know I’ve never really done any gardening before, and I live in the Caribbean!!!! Maybe I should start. I know lots of these suggestions are for those in those in the temperate climates but just reading this article made me wonder, why am I NOT gardening a little more. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Sophie Bowns

    Hey Amy!
    I do believe that I haven’t commented on your blog for a while, so HELLO and Happy New Year!
    I love your hoop house beds. They look really artistic. Your garden will flourish come Spring time, I cannot wait to see your pictures!

  7. Mel Burg

    Tell me more about blueberries!!! I grew up in Wisconsin and loved growing (and eating) them. Now I am living in south eastern South Dakota, and I’m told it is impossible because of soil pH. Do you have this problem in NE? How did you get around it?

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