Contributor: David C. Zlesak
Photo 1: Many local garden centers will put up their seed racks in early January. David Zlesak
Although spring seems far off with all the cold, snow, and ice, now is a great time to think about our gardens and what supplies we need. January is a great time to visit local garden centers and start perusing seed racks and getting our orders in for seeds and nursery stock from mail order suppliers. With the tightening economy, many of the mail order seed supplier have reported an almost doubling in their vegetable seed sales in 2008. Many gardeners that wanted to purchase more seed of quick growing vegetables like lettuce and radishes last fall ended up being disappointed because many suppliers were sold out. The trend for a higher demand for especially vegetable seeds is likely to continue. Getting our seed orders in early and purchasing seeds locally early this year will help ensure we get what we want.
Photo 2: Now is a great time of year to repot some of our overgrown houseplants. David Zlesak
Now is a great time of year to repot our houseplants that need it. Their growth has generally been slowed due to the shortening day length, which will help reduce the amount of stress they are subjected to during the process. Some reasons to repot include: the plant is becoming relatively large for the container, excessively pot bound, and needs very frequent watering to keep up with moisture needs; there may be problems with white crusty minerals, soluble salts, and increasing pH leading to reduced plant growth due to poor water quality; or one just has a more attractive pot. During repotting gently tease apart the excessively pot bound roots. If you suspect poor water quality over time has led to changes in soil pH or other properties, gently shake out some of the old soil and replace it with new soil during repotting.
This is a great time of year to take stem cuttings of junipers, arborvitae, and yews. David Zlesak
January is the best time of year to start stem cuttings of many evergreens. Those within the Cupressaceae family (Cypress family) root especially well compared to other evergreens and includes junipers and arborvitae. Yews are also relatively easy to root too. Take stem cuttings that are a few to several inches long and remove foliage that would be under the soil surface (typically an inch or two of stem under the soil surface is optimum as this helps to stabilize the cutting). Rooting hormone will help hasten root initiation, but cuttings can eventually root without it as well. Sand or a mixture of three parts perlite:one part peat tends to work well. Multiple cuttings can be placed in a pot and transplanted to individual pots later. A clear plastic baggie over the pot will help to increase humidity and reduce moisture loss from the cuttings. Place pots in bright indirect light or under florescent lights. Be patient as rooting can take several weeks. To learn more about rooting stem cuttings, please refer to: Starting Stem Cuttings to Keep Tender Perennial Favorites through the Winter.