This Month in the Garden

January

January

Do

  • Resolve to recycle
  • Begin a garden journal
  • Check the new flower catalogs and order new seeds
  • Add humidity inside for houseplants
  • Rotate houseplants for sunlight balance

Do Not

  • Over-water or fertilize houseplants
  • Use salt based products near plant roots when melting snow and ice. Use sand, sawdust, or fertilizer instead.
  • Forget to feed the birds

Woody Plants

  • Transplant deciduous trees from one in-ground location to another
  • Dormant trees or shrubs and hardy evergreens should be planted this month
  • Place woody transplants in similar conditions to their natural environment, redbuds and dogwoods in shady locations
  • Keep transplants' root balls moist until planted

Herbaceous

  • Watch for heaving perennials. Push plants into soil and replace mulch over exposed roots as needed.

Houseplants

  • Poinsettia should be placed in a sunny location. Water only when soil is dry. Do not fertilize. Maintain temperatures above 40 degrees.
  • Bring color indoors by adding forced bulbs (paperwhite & amaryllis) to your decor.

General tasks for mild winter days

  • Sharpen garden tools and lawn mower blades
  • Turn compost pile.
  • Scout for over-wintering insects
February

February

Dreaming and Planning

  • Check out garden books from the library.
  • Peruse the seed catalogs.
  • Plan your vegetable garden for greater sustainability; use all growing seasons.

Seeds

  • Start native plants and perennials from seed.
  • Start more cool season plants in greenhouse or warm southern window.

Woody Plants

  • Water evergreens as they continue to grow in winter months.
  • Prune dormant trees and vines.
  • Fruit tree thinning

General Tasks

  • Watch for emerging shoots of bulbs and remove mulch from around shoots as they appear.
  • Fertilize fruit trees
  • Cut back grasses before new growth starts.

Do

  • Watch for crocuses, snowdrops, and early daffodils to bloom late this month
  • Force early blossoms of forsythia, pussywillow, quinoe, and witchhazel by placing in water indoors.

Do Not

  • Start annual seeds too early. Example: marigolds, petunias, zinnias
  • Turn compost pile.
  • Scout for over-wintering insects
March

March

March 20th is the first day of spring

Do

  • Consider creating raised garden beds for ease of tending, reduced soil compaction, improved drainage, reduced bemudagrass invasion and earlier planting of cool season crops.
  • Prune out winter damage from boxwoods, hollies, roses, grapes, and hydrangeas.
  • Photograph and note where bulbs are planted, where you want to plant new bulbs in the fall, and decide if any existing bulbs need to be moved.
  • Apply dormant oil spray to fruits just before bud break.

Do Not

  • Build raised beds around the base of trees.
  • Mulch too thick or apply against the tree trunk.
  • Apply pre-emergent herbicides at the same time as seeding.

General Tasks

  • Take a soil test for every garden spot. Allow 10 days for results. Apply pH adjuster based on soil tests when soils are workable.
  • When creating a new plant area, turn soil to a depth of at least 8" deep and add organic matter.

Vegetables & Fruits

  • Plant early season vegetables in cold frames: i.e. lettuce, onions, spinach, radishes, and broccoli.
  • Start warm season vegetables indoors: tomatoes & peppers.
  • Blueberries can be planted now. Mulch 2”-4” deep in a sunny location. Test soil. Blueberries grow best in acidic soil.

Landscape

  • Dig and divide perennials as they emerge a few inches from the soil as needed if clumps are overgrown or to share plants.
  • Apply pre-emergent weed seed protection to prevent germination in flower beds.
  • Prune to shape summer flowering shrubs: Buddleia, Crapemyrtle, hybrid tea roses
April

April

Do

  • Apply crabgrass pre-emergent to lawn early in the month.

Do Not

  • Cut foliage from spring flowering bulbs, allow them to die back naturally.
  • Transplant annuals too early.
  • Forget to clean iris beds and remove broken or damaged rhizomes to prevent borer injury.

General Tasks

  • Rake up and remove all leaves and dead plant debris from the previous season to reduce over-wintering insects diseased plant tissue.
  • By now lawn mowers should be in good shape: sharp blades, level mower deck, and fresh oil.
  • Mow when any clump of grass is above four inches.
  • Remove excess mulch used for winter protection by mid-month: roses, strawberries, asparagus, etc.

Vegetables

  • This is the big month for planting vegetables, however if planted too early, frost will kill your plants unless you are prepared to protect them on those cold nights.
  • Stake tomatoes or provide cages to support them.
  • Keep weeds under control by hoeing or cultivating and/or using a pre-emergent for weed seed.

Landscape

  • To renew and improve shape of trees and shrubs, prune no more than one third of the growth, head back and thin out.
  • Plant gladioli weekly beginning in late April for continuous bloom.
  • Trim forsythias after they have bloomed to keep the bushes shapely.
  • Apply cages or stakes around peonies as they begin emerging.
May

May

Lincoln Trail Area Master Gardeners Plant Fair is the third Saturday in May.

Last Expected Frost Date is May 10th

Do

  • Hand remove tent caterpillars
  • Buy plants suitable for zone 6.

Do Not

  • Buy transplants with dark or rotted roots.
  • Apply pesticides without proper identification of insects.

General Tasks

  • When shopping for gardening material, (plants, seeds, mulch, soil, timber), purchase insect and disease-resistant cultivators and inspect carefully as to not introduce new diseases and insects to your garden.
  • Transplants (vegetables & annuals) should be hardened off prior to planting: place them in a moderately sunny location, protect from high winds, and reduce watering for a few days. Water prior to planting.
  • Transplant on a calm, overcast day or late afternoon. Keep plants well watered and apply mulch to conserve moisture and reduce weed control.

Trees

  • Purchase and set now. They need one inch of water weekly for the first year. Stake young trees only for the first year. If balled in burlap, cut away burlap before setting the tree in the hole.
  • When planting trees & shrubs, locate the top root within the first 3" of the soil line. Make sure the trunk flares are not covered with soil or mulch.
  • Score roots if root ball is bound so roots will adapt to new soil and prevent girdling.
  • Spread out roots to avoid girdling.

Roses

  • Feed roses when the first green growth appears.
June

June

Do

  • Buy and use a rain gauge.
  • Install soaker hose in vegetables & flower beds.
  • Watch for fire blight on fruit trees. Buy resistant varieties or prune out infection before next spring.
  • Keep amending garden soil by adding organic matter.
  • Continue to take pictures and notes for your journal

Do Not

  • Use Japanese beetle traps.
  • Buy Japanese beetle favored plants; purpleleaf plum, lindens, roses, etc.
  • Apply more than 2-3" of mulch. More may encourage vole activity
  • Damage tree trunks with lawn equipment or herbicides.

General Tasks

  • Water more deeply and less often as plants become more established.
  • Keep weeds pulled and mulch in place.
  • Japanese beetles will appear around Father's Day. Consider using a vacuum for removal or sweep them into a solution of soapy water.
  • Transplant on a calm, overcast day or late afternoon. Keep plants well watered and apply mulch to conserve moisture and reduce weed control.

Plant Grooming

  • Deadhead spent or damaged blossoms
  • Inspect for insects and treat accordingly.
July

July

Do

  • Shop the Farmers Markets
  • Make sure plants received 1 inch of water weekly, including rainfall
  • Deadhead flowers regularly.
  • Add to and turn compost pile.
  • Avoid working outdoors in extreme heat.
  • Keep hydrated.

Do Not

  • Mow too short. Maintain height at 3-3 1/2" tall.
  • Over water lawn or garden.
  • Compost diseased plants.

General Tasks

  • Water early in morning so leaves will be dry by evening.
  • Spend a few minutes every morning deadheading - pinching off spent flowers of plants.
  • Keep eyes open for insects and disease problems. Early detection is important.
  • Weed, weed, weed.

Vegetable

  • Plant second crop of squash and cucumbers to extend harvest.
  • Harvest vegetables when young and tender.

Lawn

  • Brown patch disease may show up this month. Fungicide applications are not always practical. Avoid over fertilizing if this problem persists. Patch large damaged areas with sod or reseed.

Landscape

  • Most often recommended hydrangeas are the best performers.
  • Mole and vole damage is difficult to control. Environment modification is the best approach. Reduce mulch depth, plant debris, food source, etc.
August

August

Do

  • Water early and deep providing at least 1" per week.
  • Provide food and water for birds and other animals.
  • Keep garden journal updated.

Do Not

  • Mow with a dull blade. It is important to obtain a clean cut on grass blades to maximize lawn health.
  • Fertilize perennials, trees or shrubs to avoid new growth. Plants need to shut down and harden off prior to fall freeze.
  • Compost diseased plants.

General Tasks

  • Continue to water all plants as they require during the drought. Large trees are also very susceptible to drought, stress may not show for several years.
  • Mow and weed as necessary

Vegetable

  • Plant vegetables for a fall garden. Fall vegetable crops include bush beans, carrots, sweet corn, kale, collards, bibb lettuce and turnips.

Landscape

  • Stop feeding roses this month so there won't be tender, new growth for winter kill.
  • Gather and save seeds of annuals that you might want to use again. Don't bother saving seeds from hybrids, they won't come true to type.
  • Put seeds in envelopes and label them by name, date, and color. Store in a cool dry place - such as air tight jars in the refrigerator.
  • Deadhead annuals & perennials to prolong blooms.
  • Cut back and fertilize annuals, such as petunias, to promote new growth. Cut back 2-3".
September

September

Do

  • Seed and renovate cool season lawns. Turf type tall fescue is recommended for this region.
  • Apply pre-emergent herbicide for fall season weeds.
  • Recycle organic material into compost piles.

Do Not

  • Cut more than 1/2 of grass height when mowing.
  • Forget the birds

General Tasks

  • Consider transplanting herbs from the garden into interior containers.
  • Take cuttings off annuals and use as houseplants.

Vegetable

  • Plant mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, lead lettuce in early September.
  • Radishes can be planted as late as October 1st.

Landscaping

  • Continue to monitor and water trees, shrubs and flowers as needed. Deciduous plants and perennials will begin to use less as temperatures decline, days get shorter and leaves drop, reduce watering.
  • Gather leaves for composting. Mix green and dry materials and alternate with thin laters of soil or compost for more rapid decomposition.
  • Purchase spring bulbs, choosing large and firm bulbs. Plant to a depth of 1-3 times the height. Begin planting weekly. Apply a light application of bone meal for added calcium fertilization.
  • Dig dry and store tender bulbs such as gladiolus, Dahlias, Cannas, and tuberous Begonias.

Houseplants

  • To prevent shock, transition plants by moving them to shadier location several weeks before moving them indoors.
October

October

Frost Dates _ October 16-31

Do

  • Bring houseplants indoors when nightime temperatures begin dropping into the 50's.
  • Allow Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus to remain outdoors until the temperatures drop into the 40's to set buds for the holiday.
  • Use root stimulator when planting in the fall for maximum root growth.

Do Not

  • Expect tulips to return after the 2nd year.
  • Forget to bring Angel Trumpet, hibiscus, banana trees and mandevilla in to store in a cool place 40-50 degrees daytime and above freezing at night.

General Tasks

  • After the first hard freeze remove non-hardy annuals and cut back perennial flower beds to near ground level.
  • Control disease and some insect problem by removing fallen leaves from around plants and shrubs. Clean up around fruit trees by raking leaves and removing dried fruit.
  • Fall is the best time for planting trees and shrubs. Check out local nurseries.
  • Remove and destroy bagworm cases from evergreen plants. The case contains eggs that will hatch in the spring to produce next year's population.
  • Plant late season purchases of perennials or move and rearrange old ones to improve your landscape plan. Group plants according to water needs as well as sun requirements.

Vegetable

  • Remove any diseased material from garden. Do not compost.
  • Take a soil test to determine if lime is needed to raise the soil pH. Apply lime prior to plowing the garden. Do not plow under diseased tomator or pepper plants.
  • Radish seeds can be sown as late as October 1st.

Lawn

  • Apply fertilizer to cool season grasses during October, November, and/or December.
  • Use a mulching mower to cut and shred dry leaves into smaller fragments. The clippings will provide nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
November

November

Do

  • Inspect houseplants closely for signs or symptoms of insects. First try removing insects with water, then if nexessary, spray with an insecticidal soup.
  • Allow houseplants to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Start paperwhites and amaryllis bulbs for holiday booms.

Do Not

  • Use plant shine products on houseplants. They attract dust and can slow plant growth.
  • Don't forget the birds and other animals.

General Tasks

  • Last chance to plant spring flowering bulbs.
  • Apply a layer of mulch around the home landscape. Mulch moderates the normal freeze and thaw cycle, conserves soil moisture, and serves as an insulating agent during cold winter temperatures.
  • Leave grasses and stalks intact for winter interest.
  • Clean up your perennials.
  • Drain and clean pond gardens.
  • Rake leaves and mow the lawn for the last time this year.
  • Protect young trees with wire netting.
  • Plant or move dormant trees.

Vegetable

  • Thin lettuce and spinach.
  • Harvest frost sweetened brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, cabbage and kale.
December

December

Do

  • Terminate lawn fertilizer this month.
  • Turn compost pile.
  • Prune grapevines.
  • Check newly planted perennials for heaving from soil.
  • Save pine cones, sweet gum balls, and seed pods of redbud, locust and milkweed for floral design.

Do Not

  • Over water or fertilize houseplants.

General Tasks

  • Organize tools and get them ready for spring.
  • Have lawn mowers, tillers, and weed eaters serviced.
  • Winter is the time to think about the beauty of spring gardens. Plan your vegetable and flower gardens in advance.
  • Send for seed catalogs.
  • Buy a new garden journal for next year.
  • Provide food and water for the birds.

Landscape

  • Continue to water evergreens when it is dry. They continue to grow in the winter months.
  • Protect sensitive plants from heavy snows.

Christmas Care

  • Living trees are generally marketed as balled and burlapped or potted plants. They are usually more expensive than cut trees, but can be planted outdoors.
  • Plan to keep the tree inside for no longer than 7-10 days.
  • Keep roots moist. Avoid placing near radiator or other drafty places.
  • After Christmas, plant tree immediately in pre dug hole and water periodically throughout the winter.

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