January finds us thinking we have already had our share of cold, and this year, some snow. Yet the colorful gardening catalogs keep us thinking that spring will return. The vegetable and flower gardens are certainly asleep until spring, but we can take a yard inventory from the dining room window and think about what we liked, what grew well and not so well, and begin to generally plan how we want our yard to look in 2021.

Sometimes life gets in the way of doing things on time, especially in the yard, and even if we know better. This past gardening season for homeowners may have had a way of pushing those garden activities back since our year has been so different in so many ways. The weather pattern is most likely to blame, and we have to blame something!

Leaves

compost bin open with contents showing

We have had some good weather to begin our fall cleanup efforts in the home landscape, and other days, it has been too cold and rainy to get out in the yard as we would have wanted. Those days have allowed us to see what else will need to be done before the “snow flies.” Master Gardeners continue to field calls remotely and a common one has been the abundance of weeds found as yard cleanup is progressing.

pumpkins and mums

What a great time of year – crisp mornings, warming up to comfortable afternoons, with the opportunity to have that outdoor firepit going after dark.

October also signals the annual trip to a farm or farm stand for fall outdoor decorations including pumpkins, mums, flint corn with or without stalks, and an array of colorful gourds in weird shapes and textures.

There are still many activities in the yard that could be covered, but I am picking three timely topics to cover this week. They all have to do with one thing: soil.

There are more gardening tools than you can imagine, and once you start looking, it can be hard to choose from all the options out there. There are tools for the vegetable garden, flower beds, trees, shrubs and evergreens. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Last week, I shared some tips for selecting a fresh, or “real,” Christmas tree. However, that is just one choice out there. Each year, households across America debate the decision of real vs. artificial for the family Christmas tree. Key points may include tradition, aesthetics, and, more recently, sustainability.