January Zone 3

What to do in the garden in January in zone 3

Ok, so you can’t actually do a lot IN the garden, but there are gardening related activities you can do.

  • Plan  Relax with a stack of garden catalogs and plan for the next season.  Plot your garden or property on graph paper.
  • Read  Read that gardening book you have been meaning to get to.
  • Order seeds  Order seeds early, some sell out quickly.
  • Make mulch  Cut the branches off your Christmas tree and use evergreen boughs from Holiday decor and lay them around the base of roses or over perennials.
  • Plant flowers  Force bulbs, paperwhites have a heavenly fragrance.
  • Save mesh bags  Save the mesh bags from oranges to air dry bulbs gourds and herbs.
  • Spread wood ash  Spread the wood ashes from your wood burning stove or fireplace in the garden beds.  Remove chunks first, then spread at the rate of 15-20 pounds (about a 5 gallon pail) per 1000 square feet.  Just remember that this raises the pH of your soil, so test the pH if you do this regularly so you do not exceed 7.0.
  • Start seeds  By the end of January or in February you can start the slow to germinate plants such as parsley, thyme, tarragon, geraniums and sage.  Also start the early cool season vegetables such as chives, onion and leeks.  Light from your windowsill may not be enough in January and February.  You may need to supplement with a grow light.
  • Check for heaving  If there is not a lot of snow, check plants in case anything has heaved up from freeze thaw cycles.  Make sure mulch has stayed secure.  Heavy snow cover is a perfect “mulch” so if the snow is deep, don’t worry about them.  Gently step down any plants that have heaved and replace the mulch.


  • Feed the birds
  • Sort tubers  Sort through stored tubers, roots and bulbs for dahlias, cannas, glads and begonias.  Dispose of anything that has shriveled or decayed.
  • Garden Journal  Work on, or start, your garden journal.  Keep track of plants you want to try, record garden results, keep track of what you plant where and how many for a shopping list next spring.
  • Attend seminars  Find seminars, clinics and meetings hosted by master gardeners and university extension services.
  • Leave snow on the evergreens alone  Do not try to remove wet heavy snow from evergreens, you could do more harm than good.  Evergreen limbs remain supple through winter and will bend under the weight, but hopefully will not crack.
calendarSharon Dwyer