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If you live in a cold climate like I do, January is one of the hardest months for the gardener. Most of the harvest from the prior year has long been consumed, except maybe a few leftover frozen zucchini, and with snow on the ground, it’s too early to plant anything outside. Below is a list of helpful things you can do in January to set your garden up for success. This does, of course, vary by region.

Plan Ahead

January is a great time to plan ahead. Browse through seed catalogs, map out new plants or features you want to put in, and order any necessary supplies (seeds, growing lights, seedling starter kits, etc.). I like to draw out a map of my yard each year and draw in new plants or areas that I’m planning on putting in. Once spring and summer arrive, it’s easy to get distracted. All of a sudden, it’s the end of the short growing season, and I didn’t do half of the things I had planned on doing. That’s where a well fleshed-out plan comes in handy. I try to tackle one thing each weekend, and all of a sudden, all the boxes are checked off my gardening to-do list.

Pruning Roses in Winter


January is a great time to prune plants like roses, clean up perennials, and deadhead winter pansies. Roses in particular should be pruned in January, as they are still dormant. Apple and pear trees also benefit from a January pruning.

Clean Up

We all have our go-to gardening tools . Whether it’s a pair of comfortable gardening gloves, our favorite herb scissors, or a perfect small shovel. January is a good time to get your tools clean and ready for use. If you’re comfortable doing it, you can also sharpen blades on your tools.

Planting Herbs Indoors

Start Indoors

While a little ambitious, January is usually when I start planting some of my seeds indoors. With the use of a good growing light, this usually gives the plants ample amount of time to build their roots and become sturdy enough to transplant outside in the spring. A great starting point is herbs, since they can also be kept inside for several months. I especially like rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, oregano and mint. Plus, you can harvest herbs fairly quickly.

While January is not exactly ideal gardening weather for most, it is an important time to build the foundation for the year to come and setting your garden up for success!