Things To Do In December
1. Hurry up and finish any pending plant protecting tasks! Ditto for statuary and other articles left outdoors.
2. Complete mulching all plants.
3. Drain out all outdoor water pipes. Store hoses properly.
4. Keep bird feeders filled.
5. Keep on top of watering plants in greenhouse and house. Stay vigilant for signs of pests or disease.
6. Set aside seed and plant catalogs for making plans for next year’s growing seasons.
7. Archive garden photos taken through this year. They will come in handy when you design for next year.
8. Enjoy amaryllis bulbs indoors.
9. Make use of this down time and relax!
Things To Do In November
1. First and foremost, put away all Halloween decorations. Set up Thanksgiving display – gourds, pumpkins, ornamental kales and cabbages, chrysanthemums and asters.
2. Having cut back plants and cleared debris, mulch all plant beds.
3. Hurry up and finish all pending tasks from last month!
4. Finish planting spring flowering bulbs.
5. Protect pots to be left outdoors, vulnerable plants such as boxwood, certain roses, and garden statuary.
6. Fill bird feeders.
7. Be prepared for snow and ice. Keep snow shovels, grit or sand, firewood stocked and handy.
8. In case of power outage, have candles, flashlights, matches and batteries on the ready. A radio too.
9. Finish raking leaves.
10. Clean and store tools. Get appropriate ones sharpened.
11. Start setting aside seed and plant catalogs. Soon you will be planning for next year!
12. While the weather is pleasant enough, keep on weed watch!
13. In the greenhouse, be sure the heater is doing its job. Ventilation is also important to keep plants healthy.
14. Start a routine for regular watering of plants indoors. Keep vigil for early signs of pests or disease.
15. Start growing amaryllis and paperwhites for seasonal cheer. Similarly, put bulbs such as hyacinths, muscari , crocus and tulips in for cooling. (I use my refrigerator). In about fourteen to eighteen weeks, you can start forcing them and pretend it is spring!
16. Enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving.
Things To Do In October
1. Yes, weeding continues!
2. Time to plant perennials and trees. Give a good dose of compost to each. Water regularly. Perennials already in place can be divided and planted as well.
3. Cut back all spent plants except what is needed for seasonal interest.
4. Collect seeds. Store in labeled envelopes in a cool, dry space.
5. Last call to root cuttings of geraniums, coleus, rosemary etc.,
6. Get all pots of tender perennials into clean greenhouse or other winter shelters. Wash plants and pots thoroughly first – minimizes pest infestation.
7. Plant bulbs as weather gets consistently cooler. Bulbs can be planted until soil freezes solid.
8. Rake leaves. Add to compost pile or deposit in woods.
9. Give compost heap a good stir.
10 Clean out vegetable garden except for cool weather plants that are still producing. Apply several inches of compost on cleared beds. Plant green manure to enrich the soil – optional.
11. Clean and put away (or cover) outdoor furniture.
12. Check what needs repairing, repainting, replacing and get to it!
13. Lift tender bulbs, corms and tubers. Store in dry, frost-free place.
14. Drain and close all outdoor water faucets. Empty rain barrel and hoses. Store.
15 Clean all equipment and tools. Store neatly.
16. As temperatures plummet, protect tender shrubs and immovable frost sensitive pots and statuary. I cover the former with burlap and for the latter, I first cover with sturdy plastic and then use burlap so it looks halfway decent.
17. Remove suckers from ornamental and fruit trees. Prune roses and wisteria. Remove dead and decaying limbs from all plants.
18. Fill up bird feeders. Keep them filled through the winter. Put up nest boxes for the spring.
19. Get into the autumnal spirit – fill window boxes and urns with seasonal plants and produce.
Things To Do In September
1. Continue weeding.
2. Deadhead. Cut back anything that looks ragged or done for.
3. Mow the lawn less frequently.
4. Water judiciously.
5. Get leaf rakes, leaf bags and keep ready. Fall cometh!
6. Similarly, keep bulb planting stuff like dibbler, bulb food, trowel, spade, etc., handy.
7. Continue harvesting vegetables. Remove plants that have given their all and toss on the compost heap.
8. Stir compost thoroughly.
9. Plant in cool weather vegetables.
10. Check if fall blooming plants such as asters and chrysanthemums need staking.
11. Inspect garden for pests or disease. Take prompt action if detected.
12. As days get shorter, make it a point to enjoy the garden as much as possible
Things To Do In August
1. Harvest the vegetable patch regularly. If you’re overwhelmed with the bounty, offer them to food kitchens, friends and neighbors. Also, consider canning vegetables and fruit. They are mighty handy to have on those days in winter when you crave summer fare. Not to mention the crazy times when cooking is simply not possible.
2. Keep weeding. Even though it is hot, hot, hot, weeds continue to thrive. Early hours of the morning are most enjoyable – cooler and fewer biting bugs.
3. Water as required.
4. Mow as usual. Again, do the right thing and keep blades at 3 1/2 to 4 inches high.
5. Continue to deadhead and trim back. This keeps the garden tidy. Seeds that you wish to harvest can be left on the plants till they are ripe and ready.
6. Take cuttings of plants for rooting. Doing it now will provide enough time for growth before planting in the fall or bringing indoors in winter.
7. If you’re going away, arrange to have someone water the garden and keep an eye on things.
8. Prune wisteria and anything that is overgrown.
9. Watch for pests and/or disease. Use organic treatments.
10. Keep birdbaths filled with fresh water.
11. Spend as much time as possible in the garden – autumn approaches! Eat, read, snooze, throw parties, paint, write, meditate, pay bills, enjoy the garden.
Things To Do In July
1. Weed, weed, weed! Remember, pouring boiling water over bricks and other stonework will kill weeds growing in-between.
2. Deadhead often. Neatness matters.
3. Mulch, fertilize, water.
4. Mow regularly but keep the mower blade high.
5. Watch out for pests and/or disease. Use organic control.
6. Plant out vegetable seedlings for fall harvest.
7. Keep birdbaths filled with fresh, clean water.
8. Order fall bulbs
9. Take time to watch dragonflies by day and fireflies by night.
Things To Do In June
1. Weed, weed, weed! Do it regularly and you’ll be less inundated.
2. Continue deadheading flowers after they’re done blooming. Let those that you want to go to seed remain.
3. As many plants take off this month, keep the garden looking tidy by staking and tying back.
4. Water only as needed. As summer heat and humidity increases, too much watering will encourage the proliferation of fungal diseases.
5. Keep close vigil for pests and disease. Take prompt action. Use only organic products.
6. Fertilize the vegetable beds and plants in pots every two weeks or so. Comfrey tea, Epsom salts and compost are my go to fertilizers.
7. Mow lawns regularly but keep the blades at a height of 4 inches. The slightly longer grass will retain moisture better. Leave clippings to enrich the soil.
8. Prune back lilacs by one-third their height. Do the same for other spring blooming plants – once flowers are done of course.
9. Net soft fruits to keep away the birds.
10. With the threat of frost over, plant out tender plants.
11. Harvest vegetables regularly.
12. Each evening, make a point of sitting still in the garden and observing the fireflies do their silent dance. Smell the roses. Gather peonies to bring indoors. This, is why you garden.
Things To Do In May
- Weed regularly if you want to keep the thugs in check.
- Put stakes in place so as plants grow it’ll be easy to secure them.
- Deadhead spent blooms for a neat look. Some plants will reward you with a second wave of blooms. Of course, if you want to collect seeds, do not deadhead.
- Water as necessary. Add a splash of compost tea to fertilize – about every 3 weeks.
- Plant in summer vegetables, summer bulbs and tubers and, annuals.
- Keep bird baths filled with clean water. Use mosquito ‘dunks’ to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. The same goes for fountains.
- Start mowing lawns but do the right thing by keeping the mower blade high at about four inches. Leave clippings in place to replenish the soil.
- Make sure all beds, shrubs and trees are mulched to retain moisture and keep weeds from proliferating.
- To take care of weeds in areas that are paved or bricked, pour boiling hot water over them. The weeds will be killed and no chemicals were used!
- Stay vigilant for pests or disease. The earlier you catch a problem, the easier it is to treat them. Always employ organic methods.
- Stir the compost heap regularly. Keep adding in kitchen and garden waste.
- Take time every day to simply enjoy the garden.
- Visit other gardens through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program. You will be vastly instructed and inspired. Www.gardenconservancy.org/opendays
Things To Do In April
1. Time to restart the compost pile! Give it a good stir and add fresh compostables. If you don’t have a composter, please do make or buy one.
2. Clean up all winter debris.
3. Can you believe weed patrol begins now? Be regular about it and you will always be on top of this chore.
4. Seedlings started indoors can be planted out once the soil has warmed up and has been well prepared for planting. Stay vigilant for spells of late frost. Keep cloches and fleece covers at hand.
5. Attend to the lawn. De- thatch, aerate, reseed and finally, fertilize with a good layer of compost.
6. Similarly, feed trees, shrubs and all garden beds with compost.
7. Remove burlap and other protection from plants and pots.
8. Divide overgrown perennials.
9. Plant summer-flowering bulbs.
10. Remove any dead, damaged or diseased stems/branches from roses, other shrubs and trees.
11. Start using an organic control to put off slugs and snails.
12. Put out nesting material such as wool, moss, cotton string, shredded paper, small twigs, feathers and hay for the birds.
13. Uncover the outdoor furniture and give them a good cleaning. Now you’re prepared for the first truly warm day!
14. Plant or move evergreen shrubs and conifers.
15. Take the time to revel in the beauty of the bulbs in bloom.
Things To Do In March
- Cut some forsythia and pussy willow branches for indoor forcing. Place in water and keep in a cool place until the buds are swollen. Then move them to a location where they can be viewed as the blooms burst forth. A lovely prelude to spring.
- As snow melts, start clean up process. Twigs and other debris can be removed. Protect the still wet areas of grass and beds by first placing cardboard or wood planks and stepping on those instead. They help distribute the weight better.
- Later in the month, remove protective burlap and/or plastic wrappings and wind breaks.
- Get tools sharpened. This includes the mower blades.
- Commence indoor seed sowing. Begin with the early, cool weather crops. Read seed packet instructions and calculate dates for planting out.
- Order plants that will be required for the garden as soon as the ground has warmed up. Let your local nursery know your needs – they will inform you know when shipments arrive.
- As soon as possible, once snow is all gone and soil has thawed, spread compost on all the beds including the vegetable plot.
- Finish pruning fruit trees, grape vines and roses early in the month.
- Take an inventory and stock up on whatever is lacking. Soil, gloves, mulch, tools, water crystals, grass seed, pots, hoses etc.,
- Survey the garden and see what needs replacing, repairing or painting. Schedule and do the needful.
- Start bringing out or uncovering outdoor furniture. It’ll soon be time to linger outdoors!
- Get Open Days directory from Garden Conservancy – www.gardenconservancy.org. Mark your calendars to visit beautiful gardens in your area. Come to my Open Day on May 14 between 10 am and 4 pm. I’m looking forward to seeing you!
(c) 2013 Shobha Vanchiswar
Things To Do In February
(Much of the items in the January list are applicable here. Do check that list)
- Stay on top of effects of snow and storms. Take quick action.
- Keep bird feeders full. Whenever possible provide water.
- Get garden plans and designs ready.
- Check garden supplies. Does the hose need repair or replacing? Is there enough soil, organic fertilizer, twine, stakes etc.,? Make a list and do what is needed.
- Towards the end of the month, prune roses, wisteria, grape vines and fruit trees.
- Cut back ivy on walls and fences before birds start nesting. Brightly colored stems of Salix and Cornus should be cut back to about 6 to 10 inches from ground. This will encourage brighter color next spring.
- Prepare for seed sowing. Get seed flats clean and ready. Check if there’s enough seed growing medium.
- Order seeds. Once seeds arrive, write labels and clip to each pocket. This saves time later when there is so much else to do.
- If there is not much snow, cut back old leaves on Hellebores. New growth and flowers will be emerging. Cut back other perennials that were skipped in autumn.
- Attend to indoor plants.
- The New York Botanical Garden’s annual orchid show opens in March. Do reserve your tickets and go! It’ll banish winter blues and get you inspired.
- Renew ( or join) your membership to the Garden Conservancy. Place your order for the Open Days directory and related coupons. Once you receive it you can start scheduling visits to beautiful gardens near and far. Inspiration is only a garden visit away!
Things To Do In January
- Survey the garden after every storm or snowfall. If any damage such as broken branches or torn off protection has occurred, try to fix it as soon as possible. Likewise, large icicles hanging from roof edges pose a threat to plants below: shield the plants if the icicles cannot be removed.
- Take down holiday decorations. Before disposing off the Christmas tree, cut branches to spread as mulch on flower beds.
- Keep bird feeders full. Whenever possible, keep water available for the birds.
- Inspect stored tubers, corms and bulbs for signs of mold and rot. Get rid of any that don’t look healthy.
- This is a good time to examine the ‘bones’ of the garden. Make notes of what needs developing, changing or improving.
- Make icy paths safe by sprinkling sand or grit. Avoid toxic de-icing products.
- If ground is wet/soggy, take care to protect the sodden areas by not walking on it too much. Better yet, protect it by putting down a temporary path of wood planks.
- Take an inventory of garden tools. Get them repaired, replaced or sharpened.
- Gather up seed and plant catalogs. Start planning for the coming season.
- Begin forcing the bulbs kept cool since late fall. Time to start an indoor spring!
- Keep an eye on indoor plants ( in the house or greenhouse). Inspect carefully for signs of pests or disease. Act right away if either is detected. Organic practices only please.
- Still on indoor plants: water as needed, rotate for uniform light exposure, fertilize every two to four weeks. Remove dead or yellowing leaves.
- Enjoy the respite offered by this cold month.
(c) 2013 Shobha Vanchiswar