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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Jan. 2014 To Do List: Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

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HD-pruning-trees-shutterstock-vallefrias-300x200This is a good time to add bare root plants to your garden. Bare root roses, strawberries, asparagus, and fruit trees are usually less expensive than plants growing in pots. They also tend to perform better because they don’t suffer as much transplant shock as plants grown in soil.

Keep an eye on the weather, and be prepared to protect cacti and other tender plants when a sudden freeze is forecast. Use burlap, canvas, paper, sheets, or bedspreads to cover your plants, and remove the coverings when the temperatures rise again.

  • Plant sweet pea seeds in a sunny spot amended with lots of rich organic matter. You may want to soak the seeds overnight to help with germination. Be prepared to trellis the plants, or grow them near a fence for support.
  •  Add wood ash to your garden to make the soil more alkaline, but avoid putting it near just-planted seeds or new transplants. Put it in a spot that won’t be planted for a couple more months.
  • Prune hybrid roses that have grown in your garden for more than 2 years old by removing 1/2 to 3/4 of their height. Leave 3 to 5 strong canes. For hybrid roses you’ve had less than 2 years, prune more lightly. Climbers that have been growing at least 2 years may be pruned by as much as 1/2 their growth. Tie up the canes of climbers so they grow horizontally, and allow for vertical stems that will produce new growth.
  • Many diseases are soil borne, so put fallen leaves from rose bushes in the trash instead of composting them.
  • When planting new trees, allow enough space for their mature size. Trees placed too close together, or too close to your home or other structures, are more prone to disease and other problems.
  • Begin planning your crops and ordering seeds and seed-starting supplies.
  • Do some research and decide how many plants to grow. If you sow 50 cherry tomato seeds, will you really need 50 cherry tomato plants? The answer may be different if you’re growing a big crop that you will be able to cure and store, or can, freeze, or dry.
  • Think ahead about adding plants to your pond. It’s a good idea to have both submerged pond plants, such as anacharis and milfoil, and floating-leaved plants, like water lilies.
  • Remember the 3 D’s of tree pruning: remove dead, damaged and diseased limbs.
  • For more fruit in your home orchard, prune out small, twiggy branches. This helps more sunlight and air reach the center of the tree. Also remove water sprouts, the skinny branches that grow straight up. Prune to control the height of your fruit tree, too, so you can easily reach the ripe fruits.
  • Plant container grown trees at the same depth they were growing in their pots.
  • Deeply water newly planted trees that you purchased balled in burlap. Then mulch, placing the mulch a few inches away from the trunk.
  • Want to save on your water bills and help conserve this precious resource? Consider xeriscaping, a method of landscaping that uses little or no irrigation. It includes growing drought-tolerant plants, mulching, and more; contact your local extension service office for more information.
  • Watch your grass to know when to water. When the blades curl, they will soon start wilting. Water only to refresh them.
  • Protect young, newly planted or transplanted trees from full sun. They should be fine in afternoon shade.


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