month-by-month

Gardening

 
 

January

  • Start looking for gardening catalogues, and start a gardening journal in a notebook, a calendar or purchase a gardening journal.

  • Check old seeds for viability. While doing that, paste a label on the envelope indicating when they should be planted, and whether they first need soaking. Sort them according to that timetable.

  • Indoor plants get dry at this time of year. Mist them regularly. Plants should be watered sparingly during the winter. Standing them in a tray of wet gravel is a good practice.

  • Rotate indoor plants every week or so to keep growth even, I do a clockwise rotation from room to room on Mondays.

  • Check indoor plants for insects and spray with doTERRA OnGuard concentrate and water if you find any.

  • Remove heavy snow from evergreen shrubs in your yard.

  • Stomp a circle around the trunks of fruit trees that might be vulnerable to rodent damage.

  • Put the Christmas tree outside as shelter for the birds. Also smear the branches with peanut butter mixed with corn meal. The birds love that. Another use is to cut off boughs to lay on top of flower beds as added protection.

  • Keep bird feeders full.

 
 

February

  • Remove heavy snow from evergreens.

  • Inspect trees to see if they could benefit from pruning. It is easier to spot broken or diseased branches without leaves.

  • Now is the time to plan garden renovations, and place catalog orders.

  • Make note of plants that have winter interest. Find out what they are and plan to add them to your garden when good weather returns.

  • Sharpen and clean tools, and organize while you're at it. To clean use a brillo pad and mixture of alcohol and doTERRA lemon essential oil (1 Tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and 3-4 drops lemon).

  • Prune grape vines now.  In warmer weather they will bleed.

  • Start vegetable seeds this month or next in clear topped leftover take-home trays.  Make sure your trays have been disinfected (use doTERRA OnGuard Concentrate) or are brand new.

  • Force some spring blooming twigs (fruit trees, forsythia, quince, dogwood, pussy willow) for indoor color. Bring them inside and allow them to sit in a large water filled vase. Add 2-3 drops of doTERRA Purify to the vase to eliminate bacteria growth.

  • Keep bird feeders full.

  • Wipe the leaves of indoor plants.

 
 

March

  • Fertilize poinsettias.

  • Check stored bulbs aren't being eaten by mice (if mice are a problem, store bulbs with peppermint essential oil infused cotton balls).

  • Remove forced bulbs from cold storage and put them in a cool place until they sprout, then place them where you want them to bloom.

  • Buy summer blooming bulbs.

  • Start seeds inside.

  • Begonias can be started in peat moss.

  • Start planning a new garden.

  • Send a soil sample for testing. This can be done through your University Extension, for a very low cost.

  • Have lawn mower tuned-up. Sharpen pruning shears.

  • Prune fruit trees of dead and diseased branches, and give them a general pruning as well. This is the time for dormant pruning, pruning the trees while they are in a non-growing state.

  • Don't prune spring blooming trees and shrubs, except to snip a few for inside forcing.

  • Cut woody perennials to about 6 inches above ground.

  • Gently push back into ground any plants that have frost-heaved.

 
 

April

  • If you haven't, get a soil test. (See March for local affordable testing)

  • Edge flower beds to rid yourself of invading lawn rhizomes. Toss the edgings into the compost.

  • Time to stake garden plants. Options are endless from rebar and metal fencing to natural bamboo and twigs for great garden stakes. I prefer to find branches that have fallen over winter or pruned low branches off trees as repurposing.

  • Start the lawn mower to see if it needs a tune-up or repairs before grass cutting time. Be sure the blades are sharp.  Sharpen your other tools while you are at it. Disinfect anything with doTERRA Melalueca and OnGuard essential oil and alcohol. This will help with a clean start, having absolutely nothing on your tools.

  • The lawn will appreciate a good fertilizing at this time. I steer clear of the commercial brands, as they are usually combined with a weed killer. I love my crab grass, dandelions, and clover as they add back into my soils nutrional content.

  • Avoid working in the garden unless the soil breaks up in your hand when you squeeze a lump of it.

  • Turn compost (assuming it is no longer frozen).

  • Hummingbirds begin appearing this month in some places. Clean their feeders with doTERRA OnGuard Concentrate and warm water, then hang them for the “early birds.”

  • Sow peas as soon as the frost is gone.

  • Continue pruning trees of dead and diseased limbs. (Clean prunes with doTERRA OnGuard and Melaleuca after each tree to avoid cross contamination).

  • Prune shrubs as well as soon as they're done blooming.

  • Berry bushes can be pruned. Always check your guide to see if the berries are biennial. 

  • Pull out weed trees and old bramble branches as they come out easily because the soil is still soft and moist.

  • Remove mulch from strawberries. Put trellis systems and peony supports in place. Plant pansies and other cold weather annuals.

  • Divide and plant perennials and cut away last year's growth, unless diseased than dig up, bag and toss.

     

 
 

May

  • Dead-head tulips.

  • Mow grass when it reaches 3-4 inches. Set the mower to 2 1/2 to 3 inches.

  • Hold off mulching until the soil is warm.

  • Plant lettuce, beans, corn and carrots.

    Plant tomatoes when the lilacs bloom. Sprinkle a teaspoon of Epsom salts into the hole where they go to provide magnesium.

  • Plant marigolds, zinnias and nasturtiums in and around vegetables and flower beds to repel insects. Plant gladiolas at 2 week intervals.

  • It's time to weed dandelions, before they flower and set seed, or harvest the dandelion greens.

  • Stake peonies and other tall growing plants before they get too big.

  • Cut back tall perennials like bee balm and phlox to control height.

  • Harvest rhubarb by grabbing it at the base of the stalk and pulling firmly away from the crown, twisting just a bit. Be sure to throw the leaves into the compost as they are poisonous. Prune spring blooming shrubs just as soon as the flowers have faded.  Deadhead lilacs. Check lilies for red lily leaf beetles. Dispose of them in soapy water, followed by spraying the leaves in the dawn or dust with natural insect repellant. To create a broad-spectrum all-natural insect repellent, mix equal parts of doTERRA Rosemary, Peppermint, Thyme, and Clove essential oils (about 10 drops of each) in a  16 oz spray bottle filled with water. 

  • Don't forget to deadhead bulbs as well. Leave the foliage, but take out the spent flower heads. Slugs chewing the hostas?  Stop Slugs and Snails — doTERRA Cedarwood, and Siberian Pine are the best essential oils for keeping gastropods off of your plants.  Mix about a teaspoon of your chosen oil(s) in a spray bottle filled with water.  Apply diluted oil in a ring around plants where slugs and snails like to visit.  Refresh as needed.

  • Check apple, cherry, and other fruit trees for tent caterpillars. As soon as the tender new leaves emerge so will the caterpillars. If you have to spray with natural insecticide, like doTERRA Cedarwood, do it after bloom is finished to protect the bees.

  • Plant annuals no sooner than May 30th.

 
 

June

  • Plant window boxes. Prune spring flowering shrubs once they have finished blooming. Thin seedlings.

  • Use balanced, organic fertilizers around flowers. Fertilize annuals with liquid fertilizer to promote continuous blooming.

  • Stake tall perennials and tomatoes. Use pine needle mulch for blueberries.

  • Be sure the lawn mower is set to cut the grass high.

  • Divide iris' when they are done blooming.

  • Plant gladiolus corms.

  • Dead-head spent plant and shrub flowers.

  • Remove rhubarb seed stalks as they form.

  • Cut back perennials such as dianthus, veronica and other similar shrubby varieties, to will possibly produce a second bloom.

  • You can make softwood cuttings of shrubs this month through July. You may still plant container grown shrubs.

  • Plant broccoli seed for fall harvest.

  • Move house plants outside to a shady, protected spot and lightly feed with half strength fertilizer. Mulch perennials and roses to keep down weeds and conserve moisture.

  • Lookout for Japanese beetles either early or late in the day and shake them into a bucket of soapy water. Put annuals outside. Move amaryllis outside.

  • Pinch leading stems of chrysanthemums to encourage bushiness and blossoms. Do this every 6 inches as they grow.

  • Spray the Natural insect repellant to control apple maggot flies. Stop cutting asparagus when new spears get pinkie-finger thin. Let them grow into ferns.

  • Order autumn bulbs.

 
 

July

  • Order spring bulbs.

  • Fertilize container plants.

  • Direct seed kale for fall harvest.

  • Sow fall crop of peas.

  • Pinch basil plants to promote bushiness.

  • Side dress vegetables with nitrogen.

  • If vegetables are not yielding as desired, plant high nectar flowers to attract bees and other pollinators.

  • Pict the zucchini while it's young and tender.

  • Net blueberries to protect from birds.

  • Remove fruiting raspberry canes after harvesting berries.

  • Trim strawberry runner growth or they will be all leaves and no berries.

  • Dead-head spent blossoms.

  • Sow seeds of biennials and perennials.

  • Cut back delphiniums when they are finished flowering.

  • Chrysanthemums will give a better fall display if fertilized now. Continue pinching back until mid-July for more blooms.

  • Madonna lilies should be divided as soon as the flowering is over.

  • Oriental poppies may be moved. Summer is the only time of the year they can be divided. Dig up the roots and cut into 2 inch pieces and replant in new locations.

  • Dahlias require little artificial watering normally, but should be soaked once a week during drought.

  • Water roses at least once a week.

  • Regularly snip old flower clusters off floribunda roses to promote continuous flowering.

  • Transplant iris. Trim back foliage but only replant healthy, firm rhizomes. Set them quite close to the surface.

  • Divide spring blooming perennials.

  • Start cuttings of coleus, geraniums, begonias and other plants you want inside in winter.

  • Trim deciduous hedges so that the sides slope out toward the bottom to be sure that sunlight reaches the base of the plants.

  • Prune wisteria. Dead-head daylilies so they bloom more profusely and give the possibility of a "re-bloom".

  • Watch for tomato hornworm and hand pick them. 

     

 
 

August

  • Make notes for next year while things are blooming.

  • Dig potatoes after the tops have died down.

  • Prune strawberry runners to keep the bed orderly.

  • Buy fall mums.

  • Water newly planted shrubs and trees.

  • Stop pruning shrubs.

  • Don't fertilize any more until leaves begin to change. Fertilizing in late summer causes growth which will probably be "nipped" by frost.

  • Water evergreens thoroughly during dry weather.

  • Sow forget-me-not seed. It makes an attractive carpet planting for tulip beds.

  • Sow poppy seeds.  August sown seed gives richer-colored flowers.

  • Cut off foliage of bleeding hearts which has become unsightly.

  • Fertilize peonies and work it into the soil. Transplant or divide them.

  • Treat for Powdery Mildew; 1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda, 1 gallon of water and 2-3 tablespoons of horticultural oil. Spray it on all the susceptible plants every other week.

  • Plant colchicum's and fall crocuses.

  • Order spring bulbs.

  • Cuttings from English Ivy now will produce good house plants for winter.

  • Set the lawn mower at 2 1/2 to 3 inches to help the grass stay hydrated.

  • Reseed lawn bare spots with mixed grass seed varieties.

  • Bring amaryllis inside.

  • Sow lettuces and greens, carrots, beets and turnips and don't worry about how big they get. They taste wonderful while still immature. Be sure to keep all of these well watered, also, a bit of mulch will keep the tender roots cool.

  • Net blueberries. Stake it so birds and small animals can't reach the berries from the outside.

  • Give plants in hanging baskets and containers a trim and a good feeding to help them continue to flourish.

  • It's a good time to plant perennials, shrubs and trees. This will allow them to establish some good roots before the ground freezes.

 
 

September

  • Seed or over seed new.

  • Fertilize perennials and shrubs to help them make it through the winter.

  • Scatter a 5-10-20 fertilizer on top of the ground above bulbs.

  • Japanese Beetles lay eggs at about this time. Treat the lawn with beneficial nematodes that will control the grubs.

  • Stop pruning shrubs.  Any new growth will be nipped by frost which is not good for the plant.

  • If you haven't divided your herbaceous perennials, such as daylilies, irises, hostas and peonies, get it done. The soil is still nice and warm even if the temperature drops at night. It allows the roots time to settle in and establish themselves. This is what makes fall a good time to plant.

  • Plant fall mums.

  • Allow hips to form on roses. It tells the plant to harden off for winter.

  • Water peonies and shrubs very heavily. It will have to last until spring.

  • Divide peonies.

  • Put all non-diseased plant debris in the compost bin. Add a bit of soil to help get the chemistry moving.

  • If you haven't done a soil test, now is the time.

  • Dig up gladiola, dahlia and tuberous begonia corms.

  • Move or divide lily bulbs. The bulbs are "fleshy" so treat them gently. Replant them at the same depth as they were before and remember they like well drained, soft soil. If there are little bulbs present, separate them and plant them at about 3 times their height.

  • Put poinsettias in a dark corner for at least 16 hours each day in order to set up their bracts to be colorful by Christmas time.

  • Begin removing blossoms from tomato plants. This will tell the plant it's time to ripen up the tomatoes left on the vine, and stop putting out more.

  • Start preparing indoor plants to come inside, being sure they are in before frost. Be sure they don't have insects hiding anywhere. You also want to clean off the pots.

  • Amaryllis can come inside and go into a dark, cool corner.

  • Take down hummingbird feeders at the end of the month, if you haven't already.

  • Plant bulbs.

 
 

October

  • You can still plant spring bulbs.

  • Scatter slow-release fertilizer (formulated especially for bulbs) on top of the soil after planting.

  • Dig up gladiolus corms.

  • Fertilize both lawn and garden.

  • Plant cool and warm-season lawns.

  • Divide chives and bring indoors.

  • Lift dahlias.

  • Bring plants in containers inside for the winter. If they are to remain outside all winter, tip pots on their sides so water will drain out. Ice can definitely be a problem.

  • Bring clay pots inside so they don't freeze and crack.

  • Reduce feeding houseplants and do not feed dormant houseplants.

  • Give compost pile a final turn.

  • Keep fallen leaves raked off the lawn. Put them in the compost, shredding them first if possible, or mix them really well as they tend to compact.

  • Be sure that you have removed any foliage from Iris as it can harbor Iris Borers over the winter.

  • Plant garlic for next year so they have time to begin growing roots before winter sets in.

  • Mark perennials you want to separate so you can find them next spring.

  • Clean and oil tools so they don't rust over the winter.

  • Plant container and balled and bur-lapped trees, fruit trees, shrubs and vines.

  • Put rodent protection around new tree trunks.

  • Other trees can also be planted now.

  • Keep watering the shrubs and evergreens.

  • Plant container roses and prune hybrid tea roses. Mulch when the ground begins to freeze.

  • Remove leaves of roses that have signs of black spot or other foliage diseases so it doesn't recur next year and add winter mulch.

  • Cut back perennials and compost non-diseased foliage. If there is green at the base, leave about 4-5 inches of leaves.

  • Leave about 4 inches of stem on cut back lilies.

  • Leave the ornamental grasses. They look attractive in the winter garden.

  • Sow seeds for frost-tolerant perennials.

  • Use evergreen boughs over shrubs to provide winter protection. Force into the ground before the ground freezes, draping branches over the shrubs or protect evergreens with burlap barriers. Do not use plastic.

  • Pull out and compost annuals.

  • Drain and store hoses inside.

  • Put annual geraniums inside in a sunny spot where they will bloom all winter. Or hang them upside down indoors in a cool spot.

  • Get bird feeders up.

 
 

November

  • Plant paperweight narcissus, hyacinths and amaryllis (indoors) for color and aroma.

  • After a few freezing days begin to mulch roses and other shrubs.

  • Put natural guards on the bases of tree trunks to prevent mouse damage. There is many to choose from.

  • Wrap plants in burlap for winter protection.

  • If you haven't fertilized your lawn or garden yet, do it now.

  • Now is the best time to take power equipment to the shop for repairs and upkeep.

  • Add leaves and the last cut grass to compost.

  • Cover your compost heap or bin with plastic to keep the nutrients from being leached out from winter rain and snow.

  • Water trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.  As you do check and remove diseased foliage. Put anything diseased in the garbage, not the compost.

  • If you have any left-over bulbs, plant them now.

 
 

December

  • Cover smaller shrubs with tee-pees to protect against snow or wrap the plants, or shrubs in burlap.

  • Plant pre-cooled bulbs in pots for indoor color. Put them first in a cool and dark spot to begin root growth. Water so they don't dry out.

  • Remove decorative foil from gift plants. Set the plants into waterproof containers on a layer of gravel.

  • Poinsettias should be in moist, NOT wet soil.

  • Fertilize houseplants.