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January Organic Maintenance


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JANUARY

Plant*:
  • Cold-hardy transplants outdoors during mild weather. If you’d like to roll the dice on the future weather, try cabbage, calendulas, dianthus, flowering kale, pansies, snapdragons, etc.
  • Spring flowers and vegetable seeds indoors.
  • Seeds in greenhouse conditions for later transplanting.
  • Fruit and pecan trees, anemones, asparagus, berries, English peas, grapes, onions, potatoes and ranunculus.
  • Shrubs, vines, trees and other permanent plants.
  • Plants that provide fruit and seeds for the birds.
  • Complete tulip, daffodil and other bulb plantings in early January. “Force” bulbs in pots indoors. Paperwhites are the easiest to grow and smell terrific.
  • Transplant plants during this dormant period.

Fertilize:
  • Drench Garrett Juice as a root stimulator for new shrubs and trees monthly until established.
  • Asparagus beds in late January with organic fertilizer and compost.
  • Cool season grasses at one-half rate, about ten pounds per thousand square feet.
  • Apply greensand or Azomite to any plants that appeared chlorotic (yellow leaves with green veins) at about eighty pounds per thousand square feet.

Prune:
  • Remove all vines from trees and pull groundcovers back from the bases of trees.
  • Shade trees by removing dead, damaged and out of place limbs, water sprouts and ground shoots.
  • Do not routinely “thin” trees unless more light is needed for understory plants.
  • Summer-flowering trees as necessary to control form.
  • DO NOT prune the tops off crape myrtles. The seedpods are decorative and some bird species like the seeds.
  • Evergreen shrubs lightly if needed.
  • Fruit trees and grapes. However, the best time is just before bud break as late in winter as possible.
  • Do not make flush cuts, protect the branch collars and do not use pruning paint in most cases. Do not over-prune any woody plants, other than large perennials such as butterfly bush to control overall size.

Water:
  • Spot water any dry areas to avoid plant desiccation.
  • Potted plants.
  • Entire properties during drought periods.

Pest Control:
  • WEEDS: Spray dormant turf with vinegar-based or essential oil-based herbicide (such as PureGro Weed Crush) for cool season weeds. Use real 10 percent vinegar made from grain alcohol or EPA approved 20% vinegar products.
  • INSECTS: Horticultural oil if needed on scale-prone plants such as: camellias, euonymus, hollies, oaks, pecan and fruit trees. Remember that this organic pesticide kills good bugs as well as pests - so use only in rare cases. 
  • HOUSEPLANTS: mealybugs, spider mites, scale - spray with essential oil products or Lemon Joy soap at one tablespoon per gallon of water. Apply whole ground cornmeal to the soil for disease issues. Don't over-water your plants.

Odd Jobs:
  • Cover tender plants with floating row cover before extreme cold and expected rapid temperature changes.
  • Have soil tests run at that give information on organic matter, what nutrients are available to plants and the level of biological activity.
  • Turn compost pile monthly or more often and keep moist. There is no reason to try to keep it warm with coverings or sunlight. The compost action is down in the center of the pile, not on the outside edge.
  • Plan spring landscape improvement projects and begin hard construction activities such as paving and wall building.
  • Prepare garden soil by adding compost, lava sand and mulching bare soil. Take mowers, tillers, trimmers into shop for repairs before spring.

*Planting recommendations based on North Texas climate, which is zone 8. Check with your local nurseries and extension service for specific varieties and timing.
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