Hands in the Dirt: MLT gardening tips for January

MLTnews welcomes this new monthly column from Robyn Rice of the Ballinger Organic Garden.

From the outside, January looks like a sleepy time for gardeners. The weather is abysmal, the soil is cold and wet, and not much is actively growing. But on the inside, January is busy busy busy! There are seed catalogs to peruse, garden designs to be drawn, and endless hot beverages to be consumed during it all.

Plan to stay inside most of the month, as the only outside tasks we recommend are cleaning up debris after our inevitable winter storms and keeping an eye on what is happening in the garden. Walking on muddy lawns can harm soil structure, so try to keep the tromping around to a minimum.

Now is a good time to clean and sharpen your garden tools. Season wooden handles with linseed oil or something similar to prevent cracking. Rust can be removed from metal tools like clippers with an overnight vinegar bath prior to sharpening — just don’t forget to oil them after to prevent more rust from developing.

Only a handful of vegetable seeds can be started indoors under grow lights in January, and many vegetable gardeners keep the seed setup in storage until at least February. Take this time to inventory existing seed packets so you don’t end up with eight varieties of radishes but no peas to plant next month.

Have a question about gardening? Ask below or post it on our Facebook page!

About the BOG

The Ballinger Organic Garden (BOG) is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park.  The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (creek restoration and trail installation) are completed. Phase 0 includes maintenance of the existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park.  Phase 1 will involve installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain. Want to volunteer, or have an idea of what you want to see in the future garden? Please let us know!

To stay up to date on what is happening at the BOG, including what’s growing, work parties, and events, follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/mltbog) or Instagram (Instagram.com/mltbog).

— By Robyn Rice

Robyn Rice grew up in Eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking up rotten fruit as dreaded chores assigned by her Master Gardener father. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm, and has been gardening on her own in the Seattle area since 2010.  Her science background leads to endless research about the “correct” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and sense of adventure leads her to garden fearlessly because hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

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