January 2006
Home Grown Tomatoes

January--The Days are Getting Longer!



January--The Days are Getting Longer!

Are you suffering from GWS? I am! What is GWS, you ask? It is an acronym I coined a few years ago for an acute affliction that ails me every January – Gardening Withdrawal Syndrome.

I don’t know about you folks, but I am ready to get outside and do something in the garden. Some folks call it spring fever, others call it cabin fever. I have found the best way to get over GWS is to get outside and do something, anything in the garden.

In January, here in the south, we get some 60° and 70° spring teasers. In some parts of Alabama the crocus and daffodils are starting to emerge. That offers us a taste of good things to come. Right now the hellebores or Lenten roses and rosemary plants are in their glory.

Now is a good time to prune your shrubs or remove dead branches from your trees. While you are walking around your garden be sure to have your trusty pruning shears at your side. That way you’ll be ready to take care of the task while it’s on your mind.

I’m sure you’ve memorized every plant in your seed catalogs. Now is the time to plan where you’re going to place these plants in your garden. Measure your planting areas with a simple tape measure. Transfer the dimensions to graph paper. Then you’ll be ready for your "after the sun goes down" chores. While the sun is in the sky above, take advantage of it. The lack of daylight is one of the reasons GWS has such an adverse effect on us gardeners.

Remember the birds too. Our local Quality Co-op stores have bird feeders, bird seed and all of the necessary supplies to help us help our feathered friends have their proper nutrition. The birds, in return, give us pleasure with their colors and songs. The experts at the Co-ops can help you decide which seed to buy in order to attract your favorite wild birds.

Bring in some spring this January! Cut some forsythia branches or quince and place them in a vase of water. In a few days, they will show off their spring colors for you. Keep the water changed fresh each week. Once the blooms start to fade, bring in some more.

Here are a couple of quick reminders. 1) January is the best time to graft Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). 2) If it snows, try to avoid using salt to melt it. As the snow melts,  the salty

water can run into your planting areas and do much harm to the soil and plants.

Remember, Groundhog Day is just around the corner so get busy buying those Groundhog Day gifts. I have a pair of Muck Boots from the Co-op store on my Groundhog Day wish list!

Happy New Year everybody!

Kenn Alan presents the radio show “Home Grown Tomatoes” every Saturday morning on 101.1 FM and offers gardening tips at HGTradio.net.