"Yup, It’s that time again for my Monthly Check List," by The Whistling Gardener

The Whistling Gardener shares his thoughts on what to do in the garden this month. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.
The Whistling Gardener shares his thoughts on what to do in the garden this month. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

I know what you are thinking: can’t this guy just kick back for a month and give us a break? No need to get too worried, January is a pretty laid back month for the garden. Here are some thoughts to ponder:

Visit the garden center this month. It always amazes me how fast the nursery fills back up with plant material in January.

Long before the average northwest gardener gets himself into gear garden centers are busy receiving new stock.

By the middle of January we have potted over 1000 new roses as well as hundreds of new fruit trees, shade and flowering trees, berry plants and hardy vegetables like rhubarb and asparagus all of which can actually be planted in the garden this month.

I know I have said this many times but in our mild maritime climate we can pretty much plant year ‘round as long as it is above freezing and the ground isn’t saturated.

If you don’t normally make it down to the garden center until March or later I think you will be surprised by what you will see in January and February.

Examine your garden for pests. This is a good time to wander through the garden looking for tent caterpillar egg cases. They look like small ½ inch grey globs of Styrofoam attached to the limbs. You can rub a few off with your fingers but if you see lots of them then you will need to apply a dormant spray.

Copper and oil mixed together will do a good job of suffocating the eggs and controlling fungus problems without causing collateral damage to the rest of the garden.

Plan, plan, plan. This is when all those seed, bulb and plant catalogs come in the mail by the truck load.

They are good for ideas but when it comes to actually purchasing things nothing beats the local establishment where the products are fresh and you can see what you are buying.

Just the same, when you do come to the nursery don’t hesitate to bring that want list with you. We enjoy talking about new stuff just as much as you do.

Also, this is a good time to review your journal so you don’t make the same mistakes again (assuming you actually keep a journal which is one of those resolutions that real gardeners never quite get to).

Do some indoor gardening. If your house still smells like Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham then consider bringing in a few house plants.

They are the consummate living air freshener. Keep them as close to the windows as possible and don’t over feed or over water them until you see signs of new growth in the spring.

Get ready to prune. It’s that time of year to tackle the pruning chores and before you get into deep water with the spouse consider attending our pruning class this coming Saturday, January 9, at 10 am here at the nursery (we will offer this class again on January 23rd if you can’t make this weekend).

Prepare to be empowered!

Finally, get excited. With the mild winter and adequate snow pack, this coming season should be a dandy. The drought is over so we can repair any damage from the long hot summer and plant like a maniac.

I don’t know about you, but my fingers are already starting to itch.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at

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