In the Vegetable Garden- January
Well, 2018 has come and gone. While in the midst of cleaning out the garden back in October, the seed catalogs began to show up in the mail box; now there’s time to look them over. Can spring be far behind? For the vegetable gardener, winter is a time to look back and to look forward. What’s that old saying? — “Don’t put off until tomorrow those things you can do today.” January brings an opportunity for reflection and to get prepared for a new year with new gardening opportunities. Following is my to-do list for January:
- Look back and learn from 2018. This means: get rid of all those 2018 seed catalogs, review old seed order forms as a reference for new seed orders, and review the garden journal for what worked and didn’t work. What! –no garden journal? Make a New Year’s resolution to start a 2019 garden journal. This can be a valuable tool in planning the new garden and deciding what varieties to plant. Remember that when it comes to a garden journal, the more information noted in the journal, the better.
- Complete seed catalog orders now before specific desirable varieties sell out. Order early in the month to take advantage of promotional offers of free seeds or discounts for early orders. As you review seed catalogs, choose disease-resistant varieties. They not only make gardening easier and more enjoyable, they reduce expenses and environmental pollution from pesticides.
- Perform seed inventory and run a germination test on “old” seeds stored from previous years to see if they still sprout. A little online research located numerous sites, including various seed companies, that offer information on home seed germination testing. One such site from Oregon State University offers basic and simple instructions for “How to Test Your Stored Seed for Germination”. Handle seed packets carefully. Don’t try simply rubbing the packet to determine a “feel” count as this can break the protective seed coating, thus reducing germination.
- Begin collecting containers that can be used for transplants, such as styrofoam cups and yogurt and sour cream containers.
- Clean crusty clay pots with a vinegar/bleach solution. To make the solution: add 1 cup each of white vinegar and household bleach to a gallon of warm water and soak the pots. For heavily-crusted pots, scrub with a steel wool pad after soaking for 12 hours.
- Clean and inventory seed flats; soaking flats in a bleach solution — a ratio of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach — will kill disease-causing microorganisms.
- If you are spreading the ashes from your fireplace or wood-burning stove in your garden, be aware that, over time, you are raising the pH of your soil. It may be time to have your soil tested for the pH before applying more wood ashes. For more information on wood ashes, check out our Garden Shed article titled “Wood Ashes” .
- Review the All-America Selections website for new 2018 vegetable winners for possible new planting candidates.
- Save plastic mesh bags in which onions and oranges usually come; they make ideal storage sacks for air-drying onion, garlic and shallots.
Thanks for stopping by The Garden Shed. We are looking forward to your visit next month. In the meantime, we wish you and you family and safe and happy new year.