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A Year in the Garden - January

Updated on December 10, 2017
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Verlie Burroughs is a west coast writer from Vancouver Island.


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

Make a List

  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.


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.


  • 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

fire pit
fire pit | Source

"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!


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