You may not think there’s much that needs to be done in the garden this month, but you’ll be surprised to know that there’s plenty of gardening work to do during these cold winter months. Here are some January gardening tips and to-dos in your Pacific Northwest garden.
For January gardeners in the Pacific Northwest, there are many tasks that need to be done in order to ensure a successful garden starting in early spring. Whether it’s soil preparation, planting cold-weather crops, or pruning trees and shrubs here’s what you need to know about Pacific Northwest gardening in the month of January.
It’s January…the beginning of a new gardening season.
The January garden may not be your favorite place to be this time of year, with the wet weather and winter temperatures, but it is definitely a good time to get a jump start on planning and getting ready for the upcoming growing season.
The good news is that many Pacific Northwest gardens experience mild winters compared to much of the country so you may find some days here and there when it feels a little more comfortable to be outdoors in your winter garden.
Here are some January gardening tips and things to do to get your garden ready for the upcoming garden year.
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Table of Contents
- Start Planning This Year’s Garden and Place Orders
- What to Plant for the Pacific Northwest in January
- Test the Soil in the Garden
- Prepare for the Seed Starting Process
- January Garden Maintenence
- Other January Garden Chores
Start Planning This Year’s Garden and Place Orders
Map Out Your Garden
Mapping out your garden is an important part of the garden planning process.
Preplan garden beds to…
- know where to plant seedlings
- where to direct seed sow annuals and vegetables
- which perennials will need to be divided and where to transplant them
- help with succession planting
- rotate vegetable crops
Vegetables should be rotated every year. Crop rotation not only prevents the build-up of soil-borne pests and diseases but also allows nutrients in the soil to be replenished. Members of the same plant family shouldn’t be planted in the same garden space more than once every 3-4 years.
Choose Your Garden Seeds
If you haven’t already determined which varieties of annual flower and vegetable seeds you’ll be sowing this year, now is the time to make a decision and order your new seeds.
Before you decide which seeds to buy, here are a few things you should do first.
- Take an inventory of your existing garden seeds.
- Look at your gardening journal and pictures of your garden from last year to see what varieties worked and what you want to grow in your garden again.
- Go through all the seed catalogs you’ve been getting in the mail, as well as online, and choose which new seeds you want to buy for your garden this year.
Old seeds that are more than 3-4 years old or those that haven’t been stored properly often have germination rates below 50%.
Look for the packaging date printed on the seed packets, and then compare how old your seeds are to this seed viability chart for flowers, vegetables, and herbs.
Here are the flower seed selections I have made in the past…
Order Bare-Root Fruit Trees and Plants
Order any bare-root trees and plants you want to grow in the garden this year in January or February. They will be shipped to you when it’s the right time to plant them in your area before they begin breaking dormancy.
What to Plant for the Pacific Northwest in January
Start planting bare-root roses in the garden during the winter months, as early as late January through March.
Bare-Root Fruit Trees
It’s important to plant bare-root trees before they break dormancy.
Evergreen Shrubs and Grasses
Add shrubs and evergreen grasses to your winter landscape.
Hellebore (also known as a Christmas rose) and heather will add a much-needed pop of color to your Pacific Northwest garden this January.
Cold Weather Crops
January is the perfect time to start planting your winter crops such as kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and other winter vegetables. Be sure to cover them with a layer of mulch for insulation against cold temperatures and frost.
Test the Soil in the Garden
Winter is a good time to test your soil to find out which amendments it may need before spring planting.
Once you have an idea of the soil you’re working with you can start adding organic matter to your garden area to will help improve water retention, provide essential nutrients for plant growth, and reduce weed growth.
Prepare for the Seed Starting Process
It’s hard to believe but I will actually be seed starting at the end of January so it’s important to be ready to go in just a few weeks.
Clean Workspaces, Containers, and Tools
Prepare your greenhouse or indoor space to sow seeds. Clean your workspace, tools, and any pots or trays that you have previously used to grow seeds.
You can soak your containers in 9-parts water and 1-part water solution to kill micro-organisms.
Inventory Your Supplies and Purchase What You Need
It’s a good idea, if you haven’t already, to take an inventory of your seed starting supplies and purchase what you will need. Order now due to shortages and extra shipping times.
January Garden Maintenence
Start pruning dormant fruit trees, shrubs, and grapevines to…
- promote healthy growth and fruit production.
- remove crossing limbs
- give good air circulation and sun penetration
Trim Dead Perennials
Trim any perennials with dead or diseased branches and dead canes from rose bushes.
Spray Fruit Trees
Spray fruit trees with horticultural or dormant oil as preventive pest management. Spraying in winter when other beneficial insects are not around is important.
Clean and Sharpen Gardening Tools
January is a great time to clean and sharpen your garden tools now so they will be in top working condition when you need them in another month or so.
Other January Garden Chores
Don’t Forget to Feed the Birds in January
Fill the bird feeders throughout your winter garden.
Check on Overwintering Plants and Tubers
If you are storing bulbs, tubers, or corms indoors, check to make sure that they aren’t too dry or rotting.
Check on any plants that you are overwintering, such as geraniums, to make sure they are not too dry, and cut off any areas that may be diseased to keep them from spreading to the other parts of the plant.
Walk the Garden for Issues
Push down any bulbs or perennials that are coming out of the soil. Alternating freezing and thawing weather, hard rains, and irritating moles can cause bulbs and perennials to pop up out of the ground which can expose their roots and dry them out and die. Replace mulch around the plant if needed.
I hope this gives you an idea of the gardening to-dos that need to be done here in the Pacific Northwest in January. Don’t let the cold weather fool you. There’s plenty of work to do to get ready for a beautiful and healthy Pacific Northwest garden this year.
You can see a map of the USDA zones HERE.
HERE is a great resource for finding out the average first frost and last frost date in your area.
Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,
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