January in the Garden
The recent near record-breaking weather makes it hard to believe that a sudden cold front may bring freezing temperatures and potential devastation to your landscaping and garden. Be prepared. Here’s a checklist of prepa
rations for cold weather from Sally Scalera: Make sure that all of your plants are thoroughly watered, especially if the cold snap is forecast to be windy. Bring orchids inside if the temperatures are forecasted to get down to 50 degrees or lower. Turn off your irrigation timer. If your sprinklers turn on and then off, either just before or during the freeze, more damage will occur than if the irrigation had never been turned on at all. Spray tender plants with liquid seaweed solution (Maxicrop is a good one) just before the freeze is forecasted to arrive. Spray both sides of the foliage with a fine mist to lower the freezing point of the leaf by 2 to 3 degrees. Don’t forget to foliar, “feed,” your vegetable plants, citrus and avocado trees with a liquid seaweed solution. Spray a fine mist on both sides of the leaves. Aim to do this weekly for vegetables plants, citrus and avocado. For other fruit producing trees, shrubs and vines, try to spray them at least every other week. Cover tender plants with blankets, quilts or a mattress pad. If you will be using a plastic tarp, you will need to construct a frame around the plant to keep the plastic away from the foliage. If the cold front is
to be windy, you will want to secure the covering so that it can’t blow away. Make sure that all of your tender, tropical plants have a thick layer of mulch, up to 4 inches deep, to protect the root system. Move containerized plants into the garage or house. If they must stay outside, move them together and cover the entire group with blankets or quilts.
If a hard freeze, temperatures at 30 degrees or below, is forecast you can also place a light bulb or Christmas lights underneath the cover. LED bulbs will not work for this because they don’t produce any heat. Make sure that none of the hot bulbs will come into contact with the blanket, quilt, tarp, etc. With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, you won’t need to do much for your turf. Just mow it every other week or so and water it, at most, once a week. Do not fertilize the turf in the winter because the grass isn’t actively growing and therefore won’t absorb the nutrients. Fertilizing in the winter can lead to nutrients leaching into the nearest body of water. Deciduous trees and shrubs can be pruned after they have shed all of their leaves. Meanwhile take advantage of the weather to enjoy your garden.
WHAT TO PLANT NOW
FLOWERS: Alyssum, calendula, dianthus, pansy, snapdragon, viola, stock, petunia, sweet peas and flowering kale. HERBS: Garlic chives, chives, lemon grass (plant this in a large pot), parsley, rosemary, Mexican tarragon, fennel, mint, thyme, lemon balm, Greek oregano, salad burnet, lavenders, chervil (a winter annual that has a licorice flavor) and sage.
BULBS: African iris (Morea), amaryllis, anemones, crinum, day lily (Hemerocallis), society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), spider lilies, rain lilies (Zephyranthes), Agapanthus, Astec lily (Sprekelia), kaffir lily (Clivia), calla (Zantedeschia), hurricane lily (Lycoris), Tritonia, Watsonia, Elephant ears (Alocasia, Colocasia, Xanthosoma) and narcissus.
VEGETABLES: Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions (short-day bulbing varieties, bunching and multipliers), English peas and radishes.
VEGETABLES SEEDS (to be sown in December and transplanted in January): Beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, endive/escarole, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions (bunching and multipliers), English peas and turnips.
TO PLANT BY THE END OF JANUARY OR EARLY FEBRUARY