Well, its been a rather dismal winter to say the least...We had quite a few nights (and some days) that were in the 20's. I saw a post on facebook during the month that stated oh so well how we Texans' deal with cold weather. It had the state of Texas with a large 'Closed' sign over the entire state! Oh how I long for the days of warm sunshine! So here's looking towards a productive January (and hopefully some warmer days)!
Preparing your garden for spring planting
Now is the best time to get your soil ready for new plants. Unless you have been working your garden area for years by constantly adding compost and other organic materials, your soil is going to need amending.
Mix in your compost into several inches of the soil. If your soil is not very well drained or your have a pesky clay base, a raised bed is a great alternative. If you haven't considered a raised bed yet, check out our article on creating a raised bed for your garden.
Our soils in East Texas are usually low in nutrients, especially nitrogen, potassium and even sometimes magnesium and calcium. Soil pH is a critical element usually overlooked by many gardeners. When planting a vegetable garden, most of your vegetables will do well with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. But some beans and beets won't do well in a soil with a pH below 6.5.
This rapitest Soil Test Kit is designed for simplicity of use and accurate results. At the heart of the system are 4 patented, specially designed testing devices called "color comparators" - one each for pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash. Each comparator has a removable film color chart and color coded top. Capsules for each test are also color-coded.
Choosing your Varieties
This is one of the best parts of growing a garden! Look through all of your seed catalogs and try to place your orders as soon as possible for special varieties. Here at Geddie's, we start receiving our new seed shipments in January so we have plenty on hand for spring planting. We stock the common varieties, but are happy to special order any other varieties for you. If you'd like to check out the main varieties that we offer, please browse our Available Seed Offerings.
Seeds that can be started early include broccoli, collards, kale, cabbage, lettuce, parsley, cauliflower and even petunias and begonias. Eggplant, tomatoes and peppers can also be started in January for transplanting in late March.
We will receive seed potatoes as well as onions for spring planting in during early to mid January. We usually have red, yellow and white varieties of seed potatoes available. If you've never planted seed potatoes before, check out our handy seed potato and onion planting guides.
Cold Weather & Pets
Make sure during our colder month of January with temps dropping below freezing that outside water troughs are broken every morning. Horses have no way of breaking the ice on their own so they rely on us to do it for them. Also check any outside watering bowls for your outside dogs and cats. Although its cold, all animals still need fresh water throughout the day.
Make sure your bird feeders still have plenty of food and water in them. The birds count on us to provide for them when their regular food and water sources disappear.
Planting Fruit or Nut Trees
January is a great time to start your fruit & nut trees. Both bare-root and container grown plants can be planted now and container plants also later in the season. Choose a site that is well drained, if water stands for a very long time in your selected area, choose another spot. You can plant pecan, peach, apple, pear, plum and even pomegranite now.
Now is the time to prune your trees and your flowering shrubs. Annual pruning keeps your harvest within easy reach, thins crowded branches which allows more light to get to developing fruit and stimulates new growth. Check around your lawn for broken tree limbs and remove them.
As with your garden soil, now is a good time to have your lawn soil tested for the pH level and add lime if neccessary.
~ Do you have your compost bin ready yet? If not, why not make it a New Years resolution to get one going this year? You won't have any compost for spring planting, but you'll thank yourself in the fall! To discover how easy a compost bin is, read our Composting 101 article.
~ If you need to adjust the pH in your soil, whether it be for your garden or your lawn, now is the time to do this simple task so that your soil has time to use the lime and raise the pH level for a great spring!