January ‘To Do’ List

  • Spend time going over your seed catalogues and plan your garden. Think about new seeds that you would like to try and foster for the plant sale.
  • Plant trees, shrubs and vines as long as the ground isn’t frozen.
  • Apply dormant spray to fruit trees when you anticipate 24 hours of dry weather.
  • Make sure that any leaves or broken branches are off the lawn.
  • Prune out any broken or damaged branches.
  • Check your houseplants: divide and re-pot any pot-bound plants. Prune judiciously to create a compact, attractive specimen.
  • Succulents – jade, hoya, sansevieria—may be reluctant to bloom in the house. Grow them in a small pot and hold back the water. This may persuade them to flower.
  • Start a Garden Record Chart now allowing space to record the dates of First Frost; Last Frost; Sowing Seeds; Planting;Transplanting; Time of Bloom; First Fruits; Problems with pests, and Other Information.
  • Make a careful study this month of three important garden subjects: fertilizers, spraying and best seed varieties.

(thanks to Bob Tuckey from The Natural Gardener)

February ‘To Do’ List

  • Order seeds and start seed flats. Water sparingly.
  • Cultivate the soil and weed thoroughly.
  • Lift and divide perennials, taking care not to damage new shoots as long as the ground isn’t frozen.
  • Deadhead early flowering bulbs after bloom.
  • Prune summer-flowering shrubs that flower on this year’s wood, e.g. hardy fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica) and butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii).
  • Prune summer-flowering clematis.
  • Feed hydrangeas with well-rotted compost or manure.
  • Complete pruning of fruit trees and spray with dormant oil and lime sulphur if not done already.
  • Plant new bush and cane fruits and prune existing ones. Feed with well-rotted compost or manure.
  • Sow annual herbs in seed flats and sow parsley outdoors.
  • Prepare vegetable beds by working in plenty of compost or manure. Lime two weeks later if needed.
  • In case of a late cold spell watch that your pots don’t freeze and collect water on top.
  • Remove any irrigation posts in your pots if a big freeze is coming.
  • Start seeds of Statice, Dusty Miller, Pinks, Ornamental Peppers, Lobelia, Geranium, Gerbera, Heliotrope, & Petunia.
  • Increase light and water to geraniums and fuchsias that were brought indoors and went dormant.
  • Start seeds of lettuce, spinach, radishes and corn in cold frames.
  • Start tomato seeds indoors.
  • Bring in potted bulbs of hyacinths, tulips and daffodils for a splash of early spring colour.
  • Prune back miscanthus and pennisetum grasses to about 1 foot from the base.
  • Prune winter flowering shrubs and vines right after flowering.
  • Prune roses when forsythia is blooming.
  • Apply dormant spray to fruit trees, roses and deciduous shrubs and trees.
  • Plant new trees and shrubs as long as the ground isn’t frozen.
  • Watch out for aphids. If you find any either squish them or spray with Safers soap.
  • Keep an eye out for any weeds that are starting to grow. If you pull them now while it is still easy to do so you will have much less of a problem in the summer.

(thanks to Bob Tuckey from The Natural Gardener)

March ‘To Do’ List

  • Prune winter-flowering vines and shrubs after blooming.
  • Plant summer and fall blooming bulbs.
  • Spray fruit trees and roses with dormant oil if you haven’t already done so. (Please note that Linda Gilkeson doesn’t spray dormant oil or lime sulphur routinely because they kill beneficial mites and insects. However, if a tree had a pest or disease problem in the previous growing season that could be controlled with dormant sprays, then she does spray that tree.)
  • Plant ground covers, grasses, roses, fruit trees, perennials, shrubs, trees and vines.
  • Plant warm season vegetables.
  • Start feeding your houseplants with an organic fertilizer.
  • Start feeding your trees, shrubs, perennials and vines with an organic fertilizer.
  • Prepare vegetable beds by working in plenty of compost or manure. Lime two weeks later if needed. Continue to clear and weed flower beds and mulch with well-rotted compost or manure.
  • Continue to lift and divide perennials.
  • Prune forsythia and grey-leafed plants like lavender, lavender-cotton and senecio.
  • Prune roses and apply organic rose food to soil.
  • Sow radish, garlic and broad beans when it gets warmer.
  • March 16-31 (or when it gets warmer) begin successive sowings of peas, spinach, leaf lettuce, Chinese vegetables, onion sets, turnips and shallots.
  • Sow tomatoes indoors.
  • Plant new strawberry plants and feed established plants.
  • Feed rhubarb with rich organic material.
  • Sow seeds of annual herbs and prune established herbs such as sage, rue and thyme if they have become leggy.
  • Plant ground covers, grasses, fruit trees, perennials, shrubs, trees, vines, roses and repair lawns.

April ‘To Do’ List

  • Stake perennials that need it and mulch perennials if not already done.
  • Rose pruning should be completed by now. Mulch with manure or well-rotted compost.
  • Shear winter-flowering heathers after flowering.
  • Continue planting trees and shrubs.
  • Check vines growing on the house to make sure they are not invading window frames or working their way under gutters and shingles.
  • April 1-15, plant early potatoes, green onion, bulb onion, kohlrabi, cabbage and leeks.
  • April 16-30, sow beets, carrots, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip, kale and lettuce.
  • Sow zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes in a sunny window or cold frame.
  • Plant new strawberry plants.
  • Start planting water plants in pool.

(From The Twelve Month Gardener. Stevens, Hungerford, Fancourt-Smith, Mitchell and Buffam)

May ‘To Do’ List

  • Layer your veggie waste with carbon (dried leaves, shredded newspaper), and a shovelful of soil.  To speed things up , add some fresh manure or compost accelerator such as “Rot-It”.
  • Give all your plants, and especially veggies, a drink of compost tea. Fill a pair of pantyhose, porous old socks, or a heavy cheesecloth bag with well-rotted compost or manure. Hang in a bucket filled with water. Steep for a couple of days until the colour of weak tea. Dilute with water if necessary.
  • Start cucumbers, winter squash, melons indoors or in the greenhouse. Transplant before the third “true” leaf matures – three to four weeks after planting indoors.
  • Wait until the temperature is above 50° F (10° C) or even longer to put out tomatoes.
  • Direct seed outdoors: broccoli, corn, parsley, turnips, arugula, carrots, cilantro, kale/collards, kohlrabi, scallions, spinach (bolt and heat-resistant varieties), Swiss chard, beets. When soil has warmed thoroughly direct sow bush/pole beans, zucchini/summer squash, and pumpkins.
  • Direct sow hardy annuals at the beginning of this month.
  • Plant patio containers. Most flowers only require 15–20 cm (6–8 in.) of soil at the most. Fill the bottom with anything that will fill the space such as dried leaves, pop cans, pots.
  • Prune back spring-flowering perennials to encourage vigour; plants may bloom a second time.
  • Remove spent flowers of tulips, daffodils, other bulbs, but be sure to leave the foliage untouched.

June ‘To Do’ List

  • Groom indeterminate tomatoes by pinching “suckers” regularly so that the plant will put its energy into making fruit instead of leaves. Keep tomatoes well watered (avoid wetting the leaves!) and fed. If they’re in the ground feed with compost tea, fish emulsion or kelp every two weeks while they’re in active growth. Tomatoes in containers require weekly feeding in order to have good results.
  • If mesclun and lettuce beds get stressed in afternoon heat, try shade cloth or even a big umbrella during the hottest part of the day.
  • If lettuce tastes bitter, water more frequently. Lettuce needs to grow quickly to taste sweet, and does so by never being allowed to dry out and occasional feeding.
  • At the end of June sow “starts” for some overwintering veggies like purple sprouting broccoli and big winter cabbage. Sow a few seeds per 4-inch (10-cm) pot in good loose starter mix. Protect from marauding slugs, grow on in dappled light, plugging into spots vacated by squash, tomatoes, beans, etc. in early fall.
  • Basil may be seeded outdoors now. Don’t allow plants to flower and go to seed—keep the tops pinched off.
  • Continue planting bedding plants. Feed regularly with organic fertilizer and water well.  Plant seeds between patio stones to out-compete weeds.  Try California poppy, Roman chamomile, creeping thyme and, in shadier spots, lobelia.

September ‘To Do’ List

  • Prune cane fruits such as raspberries and blackberries (except everbearing raspberries).
  • Plant winter pansies and fall annuals (calendula, dianthus, ornamental cabbage and kale).
  • Divide peonies. Be sure to have 3-5 eyes per division. Plant with eyes no deeper than 2” below soil.
  • Plant fall-blooming bulbs.
  • Divide bearded iris and perennials and plant new ones.
  • Plant bare root trees and shrubs.
  • Plant herbs and ground covers as the weather cools.
  • Save seed pods of flowers that you would like to propagate.
  • Take cuttings of bedding plants like geraniums, fuchsias and heliotrope. Do the same with shrubs and bush fruits, too.
  • Prune summer flowering heathers, and give hedges a final trim.
  • Pull up tomato plants by the end of the month and ripen indoors any unripened tomatoes.
  • Sow winter vegetables (lettuce, swiss chard and kale).
  • Order new fruit trees and bushes and prepare soil by digging in compost and manure.
  • Remove yellow leaves from water plants. Remove, clean and store water pump.
  • Plant rye grass as a cover crop for your vegetable garden to restore nitrogen to the soil.

(Thanks to June Meyer, and to Bob Tuckey from The Natural Gardener)

October ‘To Do’ List

  • Replace spent annuals with winter pansies, winter kale and/or grasses.
  • Prepare soil for autumn planting.
  • Plant spring bulbs.
  • Dig and store tender bulbs like Dahlias and Cannas.
  • Rake and remove fallen leaves.
  • Cut back spent perennials/biennials.
  • Stop pruning roses.
  • Fertilize trees, shrubs and perennials one last time as this will produce stronger plants.
  • Plant peonies, poppies, irises.
  • Add winter mulch.
  • Divide and transplant perennials and ground covers. Pot some for the May plant sale.
  • Plant bare-root trees, shrubs, ground covers and vines.
  • Transplant roses.
  • Plant bare-root roses.

(Thanks to Bob Tuckey from The Natural Gardener)

November ‘To Do’ List

  • There is still time to plant those trees, shrubs and perennials you picked up in October but haven’t had time to get in the ground. Just remember to mulch them well once they are planted. This is also an excellent time to move or divide  peonies.
  • Get those bulbs in. While you can wait until December if you must, your bulbs will do much better if you can get them in before then. Don’t forget to add a little organic Bone Meal with each bulb.
  • If you haven’t already done so, apply a good organic lawn fertilizer such as Gaia Green Turf & Lawn Blend.
  • You can also fertilize your trees and shrubs once the leaves have turned colour and/or fallen off.
  • Water all your evergreen trees and shrubs really well before the first hard frost. This may seem like a moot point with all the rain we get but even a few days without rain will dry out your evergreens and can lead to ‘winter burn’ or even death.
  • Start potting up indoor bulbs for December and January colour. Remember that paperwhites take 4-6 weeks to bloom once they are planted while hyacinths will still need another 6 weeks of chilling before bringing them out into your room. Just place them in the fridge but remember to top up the water regularly
  • If you saved your amaryllis bulb from last year now is the time to bring it in, re-pot it, water it well and place in a bright room. You should have wonderful blooms by Christmas.
  • Stop fertilizing your indoor plants since they use less water and fertilizer due to the lower light levels.
  • Delay all unnecessary pruning until late winter or early spring, just before bud break.
  • Rake up those leaves. Leaving them on the lawn can prove detrimental to it. For a great mulch for your garden run over them with the mower first then spread them over your garden beds.
  • Now is a good time to clean, repair and sharpen all your gardening tools. If looked after properly you will get years of use out of them.
  • Hanging baskets should be emptied and washed thoroughly with soap and mild bleach solution before being put away for the winter.

(Thanks to Bob Tuckey from The Natural Gardener)