Invite Your Neighbor to Dinner
Though we've passed Pennsylvania's official Invite Your Neighbor to Dinner Day (Jan. 14), this remains an inspired way to start the New Year. Meeting new neighbors and reacquainting ourselves with friends we haven't seen in a while is Big Picture Gardening. Extending a warm welcome, sharing a meal (even preparing food together), catching up -- this can only help make our world more peaceful and compassionate. So get out that fondue pot and laugh together while dipping and digging out those pesky bread squares and veggies!
Toss Old Catalogs
Hoarders, make way for the new! Sort and toss! Yes, you may save a handful of your favorite garden catalogs -- ones with helpful planting tips, good recipes, and tried and true design ideas and references. But recycle two-, three-, four-, and five-year-old bulb, seed, perennial, tree, and shrub catalogs. There'll be more in your mailbox soon.
Remove Wet Leaves Resting on Shrubs and Trees
The rain (rather than expected ice and snow) is playing havoc with my usual winter gardening advice! Even if you raked leaves away from shrubs and trees this fall, check to be sure they haven't blown back against branches and trunks. If you didn't rake, you don't need to tackle the whole yard and garden. This one step now will help to preserve your most expensive landscape investment. Just don some gloves, grab a heavy-duty rake, and remove wet and matted leaves from the bases of your favorite trees and shrubs. Wet, rotting leaves against bark and branches mean more rot and insect/fungi heaven!
Take Advantage of Post-Holiday Sales
Imagine 70 percent off garden merchandise! That's nearly wholesale. Gardener's Supply sent an e-mail to that effect after Xmas. Make a wish list, then surf your favorite Web sites for tools, ornaments, bird feeders, clothing, discontinued items, and other deep discount gardening must-haves. Some companies are even waiving shipping charges.
Start Lettuce, Spinach, Swiss Chard Seeds Indoors
If you have a shop light or two handy, think fresh salad greens! I'm starting lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard seeds indoors in portable, plastic windowboxes. Planting medium is Pro-Mix BX Professional potting mix amended with several heaping handfuls of compost/humus, 1/2 cup alfalfa meal, and 1/8 cup kelp meal and GardenTone fertilizer. I keep it simple with two new 40-watt cool white bulbs for growing seedlings and greens. The trick is to place shop lights within 5 to 8 inches of plant tops for maximum light exposure, and set a simple plug-in timer for 12 hours of light per day.