Monthly Garden Checklist

Here is  list of monthly jobs that the everyday gardener in Zone 5 to Zone 6 can perform. Of course, the timing of the outdoor tasks depends on the reliability of Mother Nature, and may vary from year to year.

Consult us by e-mail at lonmidmastergardeners@gmail.com if you have any questions regarding these monthly tasks. Give us ideas on what we can add and we will seriously consider all suggestions.

January
January is named after JANUS, the two faced Roman god of gates and beginnings. One face looked back to the old year and one toward the new. A good month to reflect on the past years garden successes and failures and plan for the new Garden Year. The January flower is the carnation.

  • Inspect houseplants for white flies, spider mites and aphids.
  • Propagate indoor plants by stem cuttings.
  • Order garden catalogues.
  • Clean and disinfect pots and containers used when starting seeds.
  • Plan new landscape designs and this year’s garden.
  • Order flower and vegetable seeds and decide which seeds should be started inside.
  • Try forcing Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus.
  • Check internet site(events) for London/Middlesex Master Gardener talks and clinics.
February
February is named after the Latin ‘februa’ signifying the festivals of Purification. White is the colour of purification and indeed reflects the winter colour of this month. It has also been known as ‘Sprout-kale’ by the Anglo-Saxons in relation to the time the kale and cabbage was edible. The February flower is the primrose.
  • Repot pot bound foliage houseplants
  • Start feeding houseplants with liquid plant food.
  • Start slow seeds such as Geranium and Begonia seeds.
  • Use this month to repair garden furniture and effects.
  • Check forced bulbs and bring out of cold storage if tips have sprouted 2 inches or more.
  • Clean and sharpen garden tools and oil wooden handles with linseed oil.
  • Save your wood ashes. Collect them until spring and lightly scatter on the garden to provide potash.
  • Start an exercise program so you will be ready for the upcoming gardening season.
  • This is a good time to sit down with a good garden book and sharpen your gardening skills.
  • Don’t forget to feed the birds!

March
March is named after MARS, the Roman god of war. Mars is also a planet of little green people who are obviously gardeners. The March flower is the violet.

  • Eliminate overwintering insects and diseases on fruit trees and deciduous ornamentals with dormant spray.
  • Check the yard for winter damage i.e. heaved plants and broken branches.
  • Start tomatoes, lettuce and other fast growers indoors later this month.
  • Prune summer flowering shrubs and vines.
  • Order summer flowering bulbs
  • Loosen up packed winter mulch and press back heaved perennials.
  • Make plant markers for the upcoming season.
  • Make home made seed tapes.
  • Plant annual flower seeds indoors.
  • Adjust guy wires on trees. Check for girdling which will stunt growth
  • Join the London Middlesex Master Gardeners for Seedy Saturday

April
April is derived from the Roman ‘aperire’ which means to open. This probably refers to the opening of buds and plants growing in the spring. The Dutch called this the ‘Grass Month.’ The flower for April is the daisy.

  • Do not work the soil until it is dry enough to crumble when you squeeze a handful and do not walk on your wet garden as compaction will occur.
  • Edge Garden Beds.
  • Rake out perennial and vegetable beds removing dead leaves and stems which may harbour insect eggs and disease.
  • Rake out dead grass from your lawn.
  • Give your lawn its first and most important fertilizer of the year.
  • Repair lawn damage with topsoil and seed.
  • Mulch garden beds 2-3 inches deep with an organic mulch.
  • Remove dead, diseased and damaged wood as soon as it is observed.
  • Prepare garden beds for planting. Dig in compost and other organic material.
  • Remove rose protection; prune and apply dormant spray before the buds break.
  • Turn the compost pile at the beginning of the month and bury its contents in the garden bed at the end of the month.
  • Start tomato, melon, cucumber and squash seeds indoors.
  • Start cool weather vegetables outside such as peas, spinach, lettuce, onions, beets and garlic.
  • As spring bulbs come up use golf tees to mark their location. In the fall you will be able to tell which areas need additional bulbs.
  • Lawn mowers and other power equipment should receive spring maintenance before the growing season begins.
  • Attend the London Home and Garden Show and visit the Master Gardener Booth.

May
This month is named after the Roman goddess of Fertility, Maia, and it is appropriate that we celebrate Mothers day on this date. May is a month whose weather can transform your garden into a Botanical wonderland or a desert of dead plants. Constantly check the weather forecasts and protect your plants if necessary.The May flower is the Hawthorn

  • Remove faded flower heads of tulips and daffodils. Let stems die down before removal.
  • Prune Shrubs and Trees after flowering
  • Transfer bedding annuals to outdoor cold frame
  • Harden off Seedlings before planting
  • Start regular hoeing and hand weeding preparation of garden beds
  • Continue to plant cold crop favourites like lettuce, spinach, garlic, onions, etc
  • Plant cold sensitive vegetables after last frost and protect them if necessary. Harden off before transplanting.
  • Water lawn deeply but do not cut too short to prevent weed seeds from taking hold.
  • Mulch planting beds
  • Start pruning and deadheading roses and begin a fertilizer program for these bushes.
  • Fertilize bulbs as they finish blooming and fertilize annuals and container plants.
  • Edge Garden Beds
  • Keep an eye on your roses for black spot and aphids and have them sprayed accordingly.
  • This is a good month to repair the lawn so aerating and seeding might be helpful.
  • Set houseplants outside when frost danger is gone and repot those that require it.
  • Start planting glads in 2 week increments until July to insure continual flowering.
  • Consider netting or row covers to protect your early fruit bush crop from the birds.
  • Pond fish can now be fed flakes on a regular basis as the weather heats up.
  • Continue to feed the birds as they eat damaging insects in your yard.
  • Plan your summer garden and new plantings
  • Check the Master Gardeners ‘Events’ link on their Web Page for upcoming Horticultural Clinics, talks and other related events.

June
June – named after JUNO, the goddess of light and sky and queen of the gods who also watches over marriages, married women and brides. June is considered a bride’s month and historically thought to be the most favourable time to marry. The June flower is the rose.

  • Fertilize flowers and vegetables.Stake or cage tomato plants, dahlias, glads, etc.
  • Deadhead faded blooms
  • Prune Evergreens and hedges
  • Weed and water garden beds regularly
  • Treat annual flowers with fertilizer
  • Remove faded rose blooms
  • Fertilize roses after peak blooms
  • Make homes in the garden for insect eating toads
  • Mulch garden beds to 2-3 inches
  • Finish planting summer annuals
  • Fertilise vegetables (i.e.-20-20-20 water soluble)
  • Divide spring Iris, discarding diseased or non producing old bulbs
  • Stake tall growing perennials
  • Leave foliage on spring bulbs until it dies back naturally
  • Plant gladiolus corms
  • Tap your tomato plants to encourage pollination
  • Water tomato plants every day and start feeding weekly once fruits set
  • Protect your fruits from birds with netting or floating row covers
  • Fertilize the lawn this month
  • Raise the cutting length of the lawnmower to conserve moisture
  • Keep container plants watered during dry periods.

July
This is a month named after Julius Caesar, as it was the month he was born, and, until the 18th Century, was pronounced Julie, similar to a female name. This is a month when you can finally enjoy the efforts of your work and when many flowers and vegetables take shape. The flower for July is the water Lily.

  • Fertilize annuals and vegetables
  • Weed! Weed! Weed! – shallow hoe gardens regularly
  • Continue to cut lawn high – cut grass no shorter than 3 inches
  • Snip off spent perennial blossoms to extend the bloom season
  • Prune shade trees
  • Remove old raspberry canes and trim back strawberry plants after fruiting
  • Turn compost
  • Edge garden beds
  • Fertilize roses
  • Check for slugs in the flower and vegetable garden
  • Repot root bound houseplants
  • Deadhead annuals and perennials
  • Sow lettuce, radishes, and arugula for the fall crop
  • Container plants should be checked as the hot weather may necessitate daily or even more frequent watering.
  • Water all plants in the morning if possible to prevent the spread of fungal diseases

August
August – This month is named after the Emperor Caesar Augustus and reputedly has 31 days as Augustus wanted it to have as many days as July, the month named after Julius Caesar. The August flower is the Poppy. This is a good month to enjoy the fruits of your harvest and enjoy bright summer flowers and foliage.

  • Prune climbing roses
  • Cut out old raspberry canes
  • Change bird bath water  and eliminate standing water to combat mosquitos
  • Remember to drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen when working outdoors
  • Check container gardens daily for dryness and fertilize regularly
  • Use a water bottle with a strong stream to spray aphids and other pests off plants rather than lugging the hose around the yard.
  • Mulch garden beds 2-3 inches deep with an organic mulch
  • Prune tightly shaped hedges, if needed, after the second flush of growth
  • Seed winter vegetables like lettuce, spinach and kale
  • Clean up dropped fruit to discourage pests
  • Remove garden debris to reduce next year’s Cutworm population
  • Continue to cut grass high
  • Keep weeds pulled before they flower

September
September – this was the seventh month of the Roman calendar until 153B.C. and its name comes from the Latin septem meaning seven. The flower of the month is the Morning Glory. This is typically the transition month between summer and fall and thought has to be given to the upcoming colder seasons.

  • Divide and transplant perennials
  • Last fertilizing of lawns for the year
  • prepare and seed new lawns
  • Renovate perennial borders
  • Cover tender plants when frosts are forecast
  • Start saving seed for next year
  • Stop watering tuberous begonias
  • Plant spring flowering perennials now
  • Fertilize roses one last time
  • Fertilize fruit trees after harvest
  • Adjust mower level lower
  • Soak soil around evergreens and transplants
  • Stop fertilizing trees and shrubs to permit this year’s growth to harden off before winter
  • Prune plum trees right after harvest
  • Mark perennials or create a map showing their location so you will know where they are when they die back at the end of the season.
  • Plant evergreen now to get them a good start before winter. Use transplant fertilizer.

October
October -the name is from the Latin ‘octo’ for eight and was the 8th month in the Roman Calendar until a monthless winter period was divided between January and February. This is the month when we should be preparing to put the garden to bed.

  • Pull out summer annuals killed by frost.
  • Mound rose crowns with about 6 inches of fresh soil before the ground freezes.
  • Continue to water trees and perennials.
  • Plant garlic for a spring harvest.
  • Protect Growing Veggies from frost.
  • Pot up herbs for indoor growth.
  • Repot root bound houseplants
  • Plant amaryllis for winter bloom.
  • Drench plants being brought inside after a season outdoors with a soap solution to eliminate bugs.
  • Save excess seed for next year.
  • Store clay containers to prevent freezing and cracking.
  • Continue to remove weeds to prevent seeds, insects and diseases from overwintering.
  • Keep mowing grass as lang as it grows
  • Remove grass clippings from last few cuts to prevent insects and disease from overwintering.
  • Store lawnmower if this month is your last cut.
  • Keep lawn free of leaves and debris.
  • Insure gutters and downspouts are not plugged that may result in ice damage.
  • Prune long growth on roses to prevent canes from snapping in winter.
  • Clear beds after a heavy frost.
  • Clean and store summer flowering bulbs (dahlians, gladiolus, cannas).
  • Clean and store garden tools and machinery.
  • Dig and divide clumps of rhubarb.
  • Stop feeding your pond fish when the water temperature falls below 50 degrees.

November
The name is derived from the Latin ‘novem’ for nine as November was the ninth month in the Roman calendar until a monthless winter period was divided into January and February. In Ireland November 1 is regarded as the first day of winter. The November flower is the Chrysanthemum.

  • Soak soil around evergreens if ground is dry
  • Hill up roses
  • Mulch tender plants
  • Plant bulbs for winter forcing indoors
  • Clean garden storage area and tools
  • Mulch asparagus bed for winter
  • Apply repellents and wraps to guard against rabbit damage
  • Drain waterlilies and pumps
  • Tulip bulbs may still be planted
  • Remove any visible weeds so they do not meet you in the Spring.
  • Dig up tender bulbs and store in a cool dark area after the first frost.
  • Apply fall fertilizer to lawn if not already done
  • Remember to continue feeding the birds

December
The name is from the Latin for ten and it was the tenth month in the Roman winter calendar until a monthless winter period was divided into January and February. Decembers flower is the Holly.

  • Trim junipers, pines and firs moderately and use the trimmed branches to decorate for the holidays.
  • Order Seed catalogues
  • Purchase Amaryllis and Paperwhite bulbs for indoor winter blooms
  • Place protective boards over shrubs near buildings to deflect snow sliding from the roof.
  • Reduce watering of indoor plants
  • Consider purchasing a live Christmas tree for your home.
  • Enjoy the holidays and plan for your garden for the upcoming season