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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


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

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building_a_landscape_block_retaining_wall_lg-150x150As you’re working on your New Year’s resolutions, take time to try something new in your garden, something just suited to that shady spot under the trees or the overgrown patch in the side yard. You might consider adding a water feature to your landscape, which could be as simple as a water bowl or as elaborate as a new pond. Order a grow light to start seedlings indoors, and you’ll get a jump on spring. This is also an opportunity to work on your hardscaping. Make plans for the retaining wall you’ve been needing, or add a grape arbor. Work out scale drawings on graph paper so you’ll be sure to leave room enough room for plants as well as any new structures.

  •  Seeds for early spring vegetables, such as broccoli, collards, onions, and cabbages, can be transplanted into the garden in March, so order seeds and seed starting supplies now.
  • Check grow light bulbs to see if they need replacing. Lights can continue to glow even when they’re past their prime, causing plants to grow tall and leggy or look faded.
  • Lime takes several weeks to break down and become usable to plants, so do a soil test (use a soil test kit or send a sample to your county extension service office), and add lime where it’s needed. Keep lime off blueberry plants and away from areas where you’ll plant potatoes.
  • Apply well-rotted manure and/or compost to the garden now. It also needs several weeks to break down into usable nutrients.
  • Keep perennial beds well mulched.
  • Before you plant bare root or container grown roses, prepare a bed by spading 12″ deep in an area four feet square for each plant. Add plenty of organic matter if this is a new bed.
  •  When the weather permits, sow seeds of hardy annuals such as larkspurs, sweet peas, and cornflowers.
  • Now is the time to move perennials and sow wildflower seeds.
  • Spread manure on the lawn to help with thin patches.
  • Take a break from working on your lawn. Warm season grasses like St. Augustine, zoysia, and centipede don’t need any particular care this month.
  • Prune fruit trees and other deciduous trees and shrubs while they are dormant. You can also prune evergreens now if they need it; pine bark beetles are dormant and won’t be attracted to the fresh sap.
  •  Chop invasives like privet, kudzu, bamboo and English ivy to the ground and follow up with weed killer in April, when new growth appears.
  • On a sunny day, fertilize pansies and ornamental cabbages with a product that contains nitrate nitrogen, the best kind of fertilizer for growing plants in cool soil.




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