What You Can Do Now: A Winter Garden Checklist

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It's January, it's bitterly cold outside, and a blanket of snow covers my garden. So if you're anything like me, of course you're thinking, "aside from planning my 2014 garden, there couldn't possibly be anything for me to do out there, right?". Wrong!

The good folks at Houzz have come up with a healthy list of what you can get started on right now, and they've made the list even simpler by breaking it down region by region.

To illustrate their handy checklist of what you can do right now, I picked what I found to be the most interesting suggestion from each region.

Pacific Northwest: It's time for those seed catalogs to start arriving, yay! Before you order, though, check all your old seed packets for viability by placing a few seeds on a damp paper towel and placing that in a plastic bag or container. Germination, if it happens, will take anywhere between 2-10 days. Also interesting to note, not all seeds are created equal. Seeds like radish and lettuce can be used year after year, whereas seeds such as parsnips should be replaced annually.

California: Aside from it being a good time to start your pruning, this is the perfect time to cut early-blooming camellias to bring indoors. Always make cuts above new leaf buds (this promotes a bushy growth habit), and collect any fallen blossoms to stop the spread of of petal blight (ah, I learned something new!).

Texas and Desert Southwest: This is great time to address your fruit trees. If you're looking to add one or a few more to your garden, you'll want to get them in as early in 2014 as possible. January is also about the last chance to prune your trees and the perfect time to spray them with a dormant oil.

Rocky Mountains: What did you say… snow mold? As a mid-Atlantic gardener I've never even heard of this term. But apparently snow mold can be a problem for those living in snow-laden areas like the Rocky Mountains. If you have areas of your lawn that are in the shade and spend long periods of time covered in snow, these areas are subject to developing snow mold. Shoveling the snow off that area is usually an easy fix.

Central Plains: If you're interested in trying your hand at starting seeds, this is the time you'll want to invest in your supplies and set-up. Even a simple shelving unit equipped with a heating mat, timer and fan will be sufficient. If you're low on funds, the cheapest method to try is sowing seeds in pots and placing them in a south-facing window, or placing the container outdoors over winter so nature can do the work.

Great Lakes: If you have hardy annuals and perennials that need a period of cold for germination, this is the perfect time to sow seeds. Most will do fine in containers, but seeds like bread seed poppies should be sown directly in the garden. Even with snow on the ground, they can just be sprinkled right on top (a method my grandmother has told me she's used for years now, yet I've never tried).

Northeast: Pledge to grow more heirloom seeds and order them from plant centers that support historic sites (for example, the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants at Monticello). By doing so, not only are you adding old-fashioned plant varieties to your garden, but you're helping to preserve historic plants!

Mid-Atlantic: If you enjoy watching birds from your garden, dedicate a little time to your winged friends. While many have left for warmer temperatures, the ones that are here might have a hard time finding food and water. Berries are a vital winter food source for birds, so if you used any in your holiday decorations, just take them back outside and sprinkle them around your garden (I do this with my nandina berries all the time). This is also a great time to ready your birdhouses for spring so the returning birds can seek out new homes.

Southeast: Photograph your garden from different angles and see what you liked or can improve upon for 2014. Sometimes viewing your garden through a lens can be more telling of what works or doesn't work than simply looking at it in person. Better yet, start a monthly photograph garden journal so you can see what is in bloom in your garden during different times of the year.

While many of the ideas listed above involve starting seeds, if you take the time to go through the list for your area, you will find many other ideas that you might not have thought of on your own. And while the checklists are sorted region by region, you'll find many suggestions from a different region that can easily pertain to your area as well.

See the full list on: New Year, New Landscape | Houzz

(Image credits: Benjamin Vogt/Monarch Gardens via Houzz )

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