" Have fun planning your garden by making a garden journal. Tear out photos from plant catalogs and magazines. Match your plans to the time you have available to work in your garden. Planning is the best way to avoid going over budget.
" Watch the rain gauge, especially if you live in an area where decomposed granite soil does not retain much water. Winter winds also dehydrate plants. Water your garden if windy dry conditions prevail.
" If you are collecting outdoor specimens for indoor displays, it can help to microwave items so insect eggs don't hatch indoors. Most items can be "debugged" by microwaving at 50 percent power for three to five minutes. Adjust down for small items.
Kitchen and orchard
" Bare root fruit and nut trees are becoming available at local nurseries for planting now and in February. Choose disease-resistant varieties.
" Time to start searching for vegetable (and flower) seeds. Parsley, lettuces and early cabbage seeds can be started mid-January to plant outside in March.
" Make sure you keep up dormant sprays over the winter.
" Bare root roses become available this month. Planting them in winter allows more root growth, resulting in better health during the hot summer. Shop for bargains carefully. The healthiest plants begin with good stock.
" Clean bird feeders need a scrubbing monthly and so do bird baths. An alcohol or bleach-based wipe can help minimize pathogens between scrubbings. Seed-eaters and hummingbirds will both appreciate food and water.
" Shut down ponds without fish. In koi ponds, make sure filtration is operating so water keeps moving. Fish will stay in hibernation until water temperature rises above 50 degrees.
" Make sure you clean up leaves on lawns. Rotting leaves will smother individual grass plants, leaving you with bare spots come spring.
" If your lawn has been yellowing and you've had no success with fertilizers, check your soil's pH to see if it is below 6.0. Grass does best in a slightly alkaline soil, so add lime according to package directions. Winter rains will help deliver the minerals into the soil.
" For the winter, the plant clinic at the OSU Extension Center is open Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. Call 541.776.7371. For additional information about Master Gardener programs, check online: http://extension.orst.edu/sorec/mg
" North Mountain Park Nature Center is having a seed swap 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 27 at the center, 620 N. Mountain Ave, Ashland. Save money and grow plants adapted to local climate. Call 541.488.6606 for information.