Inspect Stored Bulbs
Check the summer bulbs and tubers you stored away last fall. If any are showing signs of rot, cut out the affected parts; if they're fully involved, toss them out. If the storage media is getting too dry, lightly mist with warm water to prevent the fleshy tuberous roots from shriveling up and dying.
Prune Out Dead and Diseased Wood
During mild winter days, prune dead or diseased branches from deciduous trees and shrubs. Crabapples that are prone to disease can be pruned to remove branches that were infected last season. Dispose of prunings to prevent possible infection during the spring.
Send For Seed and Plant Catalogs
Now is the time to order your supply of seed catalogs. They make great reading during the cold, dreary days of winter and can spur your imagination for next year's gardening season. Look for regional nurseries and seed suppliers that offer varieties particularly suited to our growing areas.
Remove Foil From Gift Plants
Holiday plants look pretty in their shiny foil pot covers, but the foil can keep the soil from draining, or even breathing properly. Sometimes it's so high above the edge of the pot that it keeps light away from the leaves and stems of the plant. If you like the foil for its festive appearance, save it and slip it back around the pot just before company arrives.
Protect Tree Bark From Critters
Clean away tall vegetation from around tree trunks so rabbits, gophers, mice, and voles can't hide there and gnaw on the bark. Wrap the trunks with a 2-foot high, wire-mesh collar sunk a few inches below the soil surface. Be sure to form the collar loosely enough so the wrap doesn't touch the bark.