It might seem as if the only garden-related chore this month is snuggling before the fire, reading gardening books. Not so. Anyone who's finished with fall/winter cleanup and raking is welcome to come visit us who are still behind with gardening chores.
With that, and the start of a new month and new year, here's a list of things that need attention or are possible in January.
(Thanks to Sid Mullis, the county extension coordinator for Richmond County, whose booklet Augusta Georgia Gardening Calendar has the best advice for our area, and to Walter Reeves and Erica Glasener for their Month-By-Month Gardening in Georgia.)
You can still plant annuals to add color and interest to your pots and gardens, but skip the six-pack in favor of a larger size.
Plant annuals on a sunny day and don't forget to water. Normal fertilizer won't do much good in the cold. If you don't have it already, pick up fertilizer especially designed for pansies, such as PansyMate, developed by our own Bricko Farms.
Speaking of pansies, if you pinch off the spent blooms you'll be rewarded with good flowering through spring.
It's not a bad time to take soil samples if you haven't had your soil tested within two or three years. The local extension service offices will do tests for a very reasonable fee. You get back a report that's loaded with information on the state of your soil and how to improve it.
Of course, it's a good time for planning and plotting for any new gardens or beds you want. If you're lucky enough to have unused areas or a better half willing to give up a little grass area, go ahead and prepare beds by getting rid of grass and weeds, adding compost and working it into the soil.
You can spray for winter weeds in your lawn and add lime, if needed, but otherwise leave it alone.
Now, the good stuff: perennials, bushes and trees can be planted in the winter in our area. Treat them extra kindly by doing it on a sunny day when temperatures aren't expected to drop too sharply within the following days. Water immediately and mulch. Wait until spring to fertilize.
Be sure to keep an eye on all newly planted items through the winter to ensure that they get enough water. An inch a week should be the goal.
If you haven't finished cleaning up beds of plants that have died down and the tons of leaves dropped by all the oak trees, get busy. Pests can overwinter and begin their tormenting behavior again in the spring.
It's not the time for pruning unless you have researched and know for certain it's time. I for one have a date with loppers and a certain rose of Sharon that has looked, well, not quite herself the last couple of summers. January is the time to prune rose of Sharon.