A Year in the Garden - January

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Brrr. January days are so quick and cold here on northern Vancouver Island. What can one possibly do in the garden now?

A sure sign of spring approaching, awakening from a restless sleep with a list of things to do in the yard.

Starting with a list of things you forgot to do in the Fall. Is it too late now to plant the tulip bulbs you bought in September?

And what about the lawn mower? You didn't winterize it in the fall either. Is it too late to do that?

There's a yard full of leaves needs raking up. The summer flower baskets long dead are strewn and plopped hither and yon. A blue plastic tarp is blown up against the compost bin.

The alder trees in the back lane need pruning. The ladder is still leaning there from last January.

The fence needs repair, or maybe should be replaced.

All the plants are dormant. The earth is cold and wet. It could snow anytime.

Wind chill near freezing one day, balmy and relatively mild on another. January gardening is hit and miss.

messy winter yard
messy winter yard | Source
If you wake up one morning and it looks like this you are too late...
If you wake up one morning and it looks like this you are too late... | Source
Source

To do list for January gardening:

  1. Plant those leftover spring flowering bulbs.
  2. Start up the mower and run it until it's out of gas. Once started might as well run it over the fallen leaves and throw those in the compost or use as mulch.
  3. Clear away unsightly 'stuff'.
  4. Get up the ladder with a pruning saw, cut and clip a little each day.
  5. Dump the dead summer pots into the compost.
  6. If the hose is still out wash everything in sight. While you're at it wash the car.
  7. Repair the fence.
  8. Read seed catalogues and dream of summer.

fire pit
fire pit | Source

Burn something

Having an outdoor fire pit can really add comfort while doing cold weather chores, and it's also a way to dispose of bad poems scratched in the dark hours of winter. Keep a box of presto logs handy. They burn for a few hours and throw off a nice heat.

Tips

  • a fire pit can be made from an old barbeque pot or any large metal bucket or barrel (be sure to use a screen)
  • a length of chicken wire fastened into a cylinder makes a quick temporary compost bin
  • winter is a good time to prune 'weed' trees and cut back invasive shrubs



"The kiss of the sun for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,

One is nearer God's heart in the garden

Than anywhere else on earth." Dorothy Frances Gurney

A special thanks to mckbirdbks for illustrations!

Comments 57 comments

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Oh, no snakeslane. A To Do list. Sounds like you have peeked into the backyard, where every condition you described is waiting for me. Two fence post repaired, three to go. At least you have an excuse of the cold.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

I know mckbirdbks. I've written this hub so I won't have to do it today. manana...


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Maybe it will be warm tomorrow. I am glad right now that I live in an apartment. Come spring I will be upset about it. I do grow some herbs in a big pot. They don't come in for the winter but they were already clipped back in the fall. Had to gather and dry the last bits. In the spring, we will see what comes back up and what needs replanted.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Becky, a pot of herbs on the deck makes a nice garden in an apartment. Handy for cooking too. Thanks for visit!


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Sounds like you have an awful lot to do snakeslane. Still you will soon be heading into spring and it will all be worthwhile.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

If you are not growing vegetable, there is nothing to do in your garden in winter. By the way I make lots of money from selling vegetables I grow in winter.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Vinaya, thanks for visit. Garden here is an outdoor 'room'. Not so much to do in the way of growing crops, more for aesthetics and exercise. In winter we tend to stay inside too much. Garden is way of getting out. A world away from your vegetable gardening. Hope things are growing well!


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Rosemay, does it sound like I have a lot to do? It's just puttering in the yard really. The home maintenance mode, it never ends. Nice to see you Rosemay, thanks for visit!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Good morning snakeslane. How is that to do list going? I grow vegatables through spring and summer. I even had a few tomatoes in December.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Good morning mckbirdbks. Thanks for coming back. I completely revised this hub. Better now. I should have taken my own advice yesterday when weather was nice. Big storm today! Unfortunately my gardening is usually for other people, self-employed landscape gardener for years, still doing a bit of it. I like the sound of picking ripe tomatoes in December.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello snakeslane. My computer desk has seed packets stuffed among the mounds of paper. Come to think of it I should start the seed growing process. Wonder if anyone will mind a big bag of potting soil by my computer.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Funny mckbirdbks, see it is time to start gardening.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

I am transplanting my aloe vera today. They are getting crowded out of their pots. Does that count for gardening. I keep them in the window on a bakers rack. Along with some sweet basil. I like it fresh.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Becky, yes that absolutely counts as gardening! Aloe is a good healing plant to have around. Fresh basil to die for. I rewrote this hub, did you notice? Stay tuned for further improvements (I will do anything to avoid going outside today). It's rain and wind. Not a gardening day.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Yes, I noticed, especially after I read the comments and went back to look. My aloe has 6 plants in one pot. 3 in the other. I have to separate them so they have room. I am the aloe queen. The only thing I have never killed. I forget to water. I am going to give some away when I am done. The smaller ones will go. I only really have room for two.

The herb site I use says you can't grow basil inside but I have done it for years. Just put it in a sunny window and keep it pinched back. I use bhg.com for herb advice. They are great. Very extensive site with some ways to use. I also have a CD with different ways to use herbs. I don't have a deck, just a really wide sidewalk. It is big enough to put a good sized pot on it and still have walking room.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hey Becky, good tip on the herbs site. Usually when you read that you can't do something it is wrong. That goes for most gardening advice. Just when you think you really know how, somebody proves you wrong. I used to write a gardening column, but it was not too serious, tried to keep it light. Sounds like you have a ground floor apartment so that is handy.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

I do have a ground floor apt. Dennis can't do stairs. We end up using the wheelchair and walker quite often so anything with stairs is out. I wouldn't mind having a 2nd floor, it also has a ground level access and isn't buried in the dirt at the back. We get mildew in this one. Also closer to the parking but they didn't have one available when we were moving. Looking for something cheaper now.

bhg.com has a lot of tips and landscape plans, if you check it out. Help on all kinds of plants.I used it when I was looking for plants that grow in shade. I had a big tree at the end of the house that I wanted to plant a nice flower garden in. They had lots of plants that would grow there. I can't remember what I finally planted though.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Becky, just got back from town, so much rain some of the roads are like lakes. Thanks for the garden site info, will check it out. Hope you eventually get what you want re: apartment. Moving is not fun.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

It was 60 here today so i could have worked in the yard but what did i do? I went shopping..Hee Cheers


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi always, I know what you mean, I always find something else to do on the nice days too. The thing is I was staying across the street over Christmas looking after my neighbor's dog and I got a bird's eye view of my messy yard and realized how much work there is to do. Shopping sounds fun. Did you get any good deals?


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I did. I got two really cute tops, some picture frames, and a couple of flower ornaments for the garden..I'm thinking SPRING...Cheers


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Cool! Cheers to you!


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear snakeslane,

This comment section has a 'Cafe' feel to it, quite lovely.

We enjoyed a gorgeous day in PA in the 50s, no jackets needed. Aunt Baby and I did one of our favorite chores. She likes to call it working in the 'branch office', loving to help Mommy snap up tree twigs to clear the yard.

Love Mike's illustrations, the perfect touch. Voted UP and Awesome. Have a wonderful evening, mar.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hello mar! I am so jealous of your weather and working in the yard with Aunt Baby. Nice to have the Em's cafe crowd over for a visit. I'm so far away in the home and garden section, was worried no one would find me...The mckbirdbks art is fun. And I got it at a real good price, but don't tell. Thanks for the votes ms mar.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

When I'm in Kathmandu I miss gardening, I don't have enough land in the city and try to nurture my hobby in mud vase and roof terrace. Your photographs give a feel of my life in Kathmandu. I have a small compost bin, which is a tin can actually. I make a fire while I'm on the roof terrace in a cement vase.

You have done this beautifully, I'll be waiting for February gardening, and March to December gardening.

PS: Tell mckbirdbks, he is a wonderful artist.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you Vinaya, I'm so happy you came back. I love hearing your stories of Kathmandu and the farm. Mckbirdbks will be pleased to hear that, I'm sure.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Love the artwork snakeslane. Our resident artist is getting quite well known, he'll be charging us soon Lol.

Truly Mike has done a brilliant job to match your garden hub. The pair of you will have it all ship shape in no time.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Ms Rosemay, gulp, I borrowed your artiste extraordinaire. Glad you came back too, lots changed since this morning. Seeya soon.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Wonder how he does with raccoons? LOL


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Racoons Becky?


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Are you going to get mckbirdbks to illustrate your racoon story BeckY?


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner on that, I was sleeping. I am in the Central time zone so I am later than your time.

No, I am not, I was kidding. I actually love the raccoon pictures I have on there. And I draw too. I just do not have a scanner. My husband does but his computer has the virus again. I am considering trading printers with him for a while so I can use the scanner for some projects.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

There you are! You love the racoon pictures you have on where? Do you have a hub on racoons? Yes get that scanner set up!


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

You haven't read my latest hub, I guess. Go read it. I think it is almost funny.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Oh goody! Going now.


Derdriu 4 years ago

Snakelane, What a charmingly challenging garden year you set for yourself! In particular, I like your reference to the fire pit for generating warmth ... and terminating the life of nocturnal scribblings! In the rural hinterlands where I am it's possible to burn, and the wildlife in the area appear to enjoy the color and the warmth since they will cluster at respectful distances.

Thank you for sharing, etc.,

Derdriu


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Derdriu, thanks for visit. Bonfires are one of the 'perks' of living in a temperate rain forest climate. In summer they are banned though, which is a good thing. Glad you enjoyed, it's an easy write for me.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Snakeslane, loved the hub. :) A great reminder that we can do things now to help our gardens later, even in January. I had some of my prettiest tulips EVER, once when I had gone ahead and planted them late rather than not at all. They were gorgeous. Fun hub, and a good reminder to do those extra things. Voted up, useful and interesting.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you for the encouraging words oceansnsunsets. There are things we can do, yes. But not today! Rain blowing in sideways, maybe tomorrow.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

It sounds like a busy month for you snakeslane...

Hold on a minute, I've got a list somewhere - yep we are both going to be busy!

Thanks for sharing and voted up!


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Good morning MM, yes so much 'to do'. So far all I've done is the list! Good luck with your January gardening. Thanks for the visit and the vote.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

Good afternoon Snakeslane.. thank you for this helpful list with a few tweaks.. I can get er done :) Up and useful Frank


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Well thank you very much Frank Atanacio, always nice to be helpful. I've already added a few tweaks myself.


Fennelseed profile image

Fennelseed 4 years ago from Australia

I like this, writing the list is halfway there to actually doing it and gives some satisfaction and well the actual doing can wait - until tomorrow at least. The fire pit is a wonderful idea, there is nothing quite like sidling up to a warm fire on a cold day and if you are disposing of rubbish at the same time it can be very cathartic, just don't destroy any of your awesome poems!!!

A great hub snakeslane and you have shamed us all into that much needed clean up in our backyards.

I love your furry helper in the backyard photo:)


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you Fennelseed, so nice to see you! You are the first to notice 'Lickey' scampering on his route through the yard. I do try to keep things cat friendly with lots of good hiding spots. I've tried to refrain from burning any poems, but there is a large supply of fire starter in the years and years of scribbling.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

I have those bulbs that really need to go in the ground. Where I live spring sometimes comes in February!


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Funny you should mention that Jackie. I still haven't done that. I have 60 bulbs to plant. It's now or never! Thanks for visit.


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi snakeslane

I live in a condo and don't have a garden. Burning something would be my favourite activity on the list. :-)

Voted up.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Sueswan! Burning is very therapeutic...Thanks for visit and vote.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Brr--I am up in my trees cutting and pruning--great hub!


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi AudreyHowitt, you be careful in that tree! Thanks for visit. I owe you, see you soon.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

Hello snakeslane, I'm still waiting for the February gardening.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Vinaya, Me too! February gardening got delayed because of personal family crisis. I am working on it now. Thank you for the visit.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

Don't forget to pick up all those sticks! I don't know about you, but late January finds my yard full of sticks and a big mess. I had to laugh about the tarp blown against the compost bin. Mine was blown against the fence! (I love that poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney - it just says it all)


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hello Dolores, welcome to my messy winter yard. I had planned to do a monthly garden Hub, but ran into real life along the way, and now way behind. Thank goodness gardening is very forgiving.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Gardening tips are always welcomed here where I sit and gaze at the ever growing tangle of vines and dandelions. Maybe I'll write a poem instead of pulling weeds.

You are so funny. I loved your fire pit remark, "to dispose of bad poems scratched in the dark hours of winter". Mine would be a bonfire!

Mck's illustration had me laughing - sawing off the limb where his ladder rests. LOL


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Peg, thank you! I am ashamed to say nothing has changed since I wrote this waay back in January. The 'to do' list is growing like a weed. I love the mckbirdbook illustration. So generous of him to contribue. A bonfire needed here too. Can't put off the yard work much longer. Thank goodness Spring is here, no more making excuses!

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