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Tips for Zone 5B-6

January | February | March | April | May | June | July |
August | September | October | November | December |
January Catalogue time! As you gaze out on to a frozen landscape, you can begin your plans for the Spring, and the easiest place to start is by looking through the many catalogues. 

If you need a "Plant shot", go to your local nursery and wander around the indoor plant section.

Sort through pots and seed kits, and make sure that everything has been disinfected. 

Start slow to germinate seeds in late January.

February Clean and disinfect any old seed trays, boxes, etc. not previously done; Prepare containers for propagation of plants from cuttings (Impatiens, Geraniums), and make cuttings. Review new catalogues for outstanding plants and place early orders; review stock of gardening aids such as gloves and boots. 
March Fertilize shade trees, evergreens and ground covers. Begin removing winter mulch from flower beds. Remove damaged branches from trees and shrubs. Apply dormant oil to fruit trees and ornamentals. Thoroughly rake and fertilize the lawn, and treat with a pre-emergent weed killer. Transplant deciduous trees and shrubs while still dormant. Cut back ornamental grasses. Prune summer flowering vines. 
April Gradually remove mulch from roses. Plant shrubs, trees and hedges. Apply pre-emergence crabgrass killer to lawn. Transplant biennials into garden. Repair lawn damage with seed and top soil. Plant peas, radishes and onions. Spray for birch leaf miner. Inspect Roses for insects or disease. Spray if required. 
May Make lattice for vines. Transfer bedding annuals to outside cold frame to harden. Check trees for tent caterpillars and other insects. Remove faded flower heads from tulips and daffodils. Prune trees and shrubs after flowering. Spray lawn with herbicides. Fertilize lawns. Plant corn, beans, squash, strawberries and raspberries. Harvest asparagus.
June Prune evergreens and hedges. Use grass clippings and compost on garden to conserve moisture and control weeds. Thin annuals and vegetables. Fertilize annuals with water soluble 20-20-20. Stake tall perennials. Pinch back chrysanthemums. Remove faded rose blooms; inspect for insect damage and spray accordingly. Water Silver Birch  (a nice, long soak) to help ward off pest and disease problems. 
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July  Fertilize vegetables and annuals with water soluble 10-20-20. Hoe plant beds lightly. Pinch back straggly annuals. Water plants thoroughly through dry spells, preferably from underneath. Harvest berry fruits. Remove dead blooms from all flowers, it will encourage them to rebloom. Soak moisture loving plants (Astilbe, Hydrangea, Ferns) regularly once a week during really hot weather.
August Prune climbing roses; inspect for blackspot, spray if needed. Lift and divide Iris. If catalogues have arrived, plan and order fall bulbs. Spray shrubs and flowers for powdery mildew. Continue to water plants through hot dry spells -  5 minutes sprinkling with the hose is not a thorough watering!) 
September Prepare and seed new lawns. Rake, aerate and feed established lawns. Plant evergreens. Prune outdoor hydrangeas. Plant lilies (lillium). Move and plant peonies. If not previously done, plan and purchase Spring bulb collection. Continue to control black spot on roses with fungicidal sprays. Drop mower blades
to 1.5" .
October Remove diseased leaves from roses and burn; rake summer mulch away from roses and replace with top dressing of well rotted manure. Plant flowering trees and shrubs. Drop lawn mower blades as low as they will go. Rake leaves and add to compost. Continue to mow lawn until freeze-up. 
November  Tidy perennial border. Cut down spent plants, chop up and add to compost. Rake up dry leaves and drift over beds. Prune long rose shoots to prevent wind damage. Trim whippy ends of clematis. Tie up climbing roses. 
December And you thought the gardening season was over? Ha!
Continue to mow lawn until freeze-up. Plant Spring bulbs. Depending upon temperatures and snowfall, there are still outdoor tasks. If you did not yet cover your roses, this is a good time. (I like to use half-filled bags of dry leaves around plants that need a little winter protection. The leaves act as an insulator and the bags keep them from blowing about and creating nesting places for rodents and plant pests.) If youhave not yet wrapped your evergreens, you should do so before a heavy snowfall causes damage.  If the evergreens are in a location that will get seconhand road-salt spray, you should burlap wrap them. Otherwise you can use the fine, black netting sold for this purpose.

Don't forget to winterize your lawnmower  - drain the oil pan; use a syphon to extract the remaining gas. Clean the blades thoroughly and rub them down with an oily rag. If you feel really ambitious, you could sharpen the blades, then you won't have to do it in the Spring.

NOTE: Brian Wilson, of All Seasons Small Engines says: 
"Do not keep old gasoline around. If you have some left from the summer, take it to the gas station and get rid of it. It is best to buy your gas in small quanities, since it loses it's potency over time. Your machinery - lawnmowers, snowbloers, etc, will all start much more efficiently if you use fresh gas."

Bring in all patio plastic pots - most do not withstand the extreme cold, and may crack. This also applies to terracotta, but some large containers may not be moveable. You may have to wrap to help protect them.

If your garden attracts birds, remember to try to have a water source for them. There are some dandy bird bath heaters available.

Collect evergreen boughs to make wreathes and other decorations.

Remember to keep the humidity up for your indoor plants - we tend to forget that our green friends do not enjoy an overly dry indoor environment. You can do this very simply by setting your plant pot on its saucer - on top of a large shallow tray filled with pebbles and water. The moisture evaporating from the pebble tray will provide humidity to the plant immediately above it.

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