January: To-Do List

Illustration by Kathleen White

Illustration by Kathleen White

1. Order your seed catalogs

January may seem like a lull in your gardening endeavors, but there’s no better time to start dreaming about spring. Order your catalog now, and when February rolls around, you’ll be ready to start your planning in earnest.

2. Go wassail a tree

Caroling to orchard trees is an ancient custom that scares away evil spirits and promotes a healthy harvest for the following year. Superstitions aside, an evening of drinking spiced cider and singing with family and friends is rewarding enough.

3. Watch out for winter mold

When cold rooms are adjacent to warm rooms in a house, it makes your drywall more susceptible to moisture and mold. It can trigger nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing and respiratory infections and worsen asthma and allergic conditions.

4. Grow flowers from bulbs inside

If the gray landscape gets you down, plant some indoor tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses or scillas to color your winter. The National Gardening Association has easy instructions on how to “push” bulbs to bloom early, or you can buy kits that are ready to bloom within weeks of bringing them home.

5. Replace batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors

Invest in carbon monoxide detectors, especially if you have an old heating system (or are forced to use energy-guzzling space heaters because you rent and can’t make efficiency improvements). If you don’t like the sound of chirping smoke detector batteries as they wear down, do what many fire departments recommend: Replace all of them at the same time once a year. 

6. Boost your immunity

The best way to get your vitamins is from healthy food. To help keep your immune system strong, eat your greens! Look for dark, leafy greens and red and yellow vegetables. Want some vitamin C? Oranges or home-squeezed juice can give you a boost. 

7. Donate newly replaced items

Now that the holidays have granted you a new television or long-sought article of clothing, it’s time to donate its predecessor. Take them to a local Goodwill or charity.  Donate them instead of hiding them in the closet.

8. Shovel the neighbor’s walk

Shoveling stoops, stairs and sidewalks can be dangerous, especially for elderly neighbors or people who are trying to look after a gaggle of little ones. Lend a neighborly hand to those around you who may need assistance.

9. Compost fireplace ash

Make sure to add some of your fireplace ash to your compost bin this winter. The ashes will help maintain the neutral condition of the compost, and by spring it will have combined to provide you with a balanced fertilizer for your garden.

10. Recycle your holiday trees and wreaths

Keep your holiday greens out of the landfill. These local programs recycle holiday greenery for use as mulch in parks and in beautification projects.

Greenlimbs Treecycling

2nd and Lombard streets, 4th and Bainbridge streets, 801 S. 9th St., 20th and Callowhill streets, 929 South St., 4th St. and Washington Ave.

Jan. 9, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

$5 per tree; $3 per wreath

Philadelphia Streets Department Recycling

66th St. and Haverford Ave., 54th St. and Woodbine Ave., Broad and Christian streets, Washington Ln. and Ardleigh St., American and Thompson streets, 20th and Hartranft streets, Corinthian and Poplar streets
Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Civic Association Christmas Tree Recycling

Palmer and Front streets (closes at 2 p.m.), 13th and Reed streets, 3rd and Poplar streets, 43rd St. and Chester Ave., Taney and Pine streets.

Jan. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.