Ten Tips for the January Gardener

Photo: Iowa Extension

1. Protect your young fruit trees from hungry mice, who can chew the bark off at the soil line, weakening and possibly killing the trees Keep mulch several inches from trunks to keep the mice from hiding under it. Also, consider putting wire-screen mouse guards around the trunks of the trees.

2. Bring pruning tools inside and clean them for the upcoming season. Disassemble hand pruners, and loppers. Sharpen the blades, oil the levers, and remove any rust.

3. If your houseplants are growing tall and leggy, they probably need supplemental light. Move to a brighter location or consider investing in fluorescent lights.

4. Clean bird feeders regularly to avoid the spread of avian diseases. Disinfect the feeder monthly with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Clean droppings off and make sure the bird food isn’t moldy.

5. Spider mites may be a problem for your houseplants because of the dry indoor air. Look for the symptoms they cause- stippling on leaves and fine webbing on new growth. Spray them with insecticidal soap 2 to 3 times a week to kill the mites or small plants can be put over the sink and blasted with water.

6. Send for plant catalogs. Order early because some plants may be in limited supply.

7. Plan this year’s vegetable garden.

8. Prune limbs cracked by heavy snow or ice to prevent further ripping of bark.

9. Keep houseplant leaves away from cold windowpanes.

10. Start thinking of new landscape projects.