If your list includes new homeowners or first time gardeners, “Sunset Western Garden Book” or “Pat Welsh's Southern California Gardening” can't be beat and will be used as reference guides for years to come. Are they talking about digging up the lawn and putting in a natural garden?
You might consider “Gaia's Garden, A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture” or “California Native Plants for the Garden”. Are they doing their best to grow a vegetable garden but may need a little help or inspiration? Look at “Square Foot Gardening” or “Carrots Love Tomatoes”.
But what about the experienced gardener? Do you have someone on your list that could probably write his or her own gardening book? I guarantee all gardeners love to peruse a beautiful book full of inspiring pictures. Consider two gardening books that made the Amazon list of Best Books of 2014, “The Gardener's Garden” or “The Writer's Garden”. If you are shopping for me I'll take either of the last two!
And if you think you need more to do, or you don't have any fruit trees, go buy some bare root ones and plant them! (If you are one of us that have no spare time this month, don't despair; you can still do these chores next month!)
There are all kinds of resources that will show you how to properly prune your kind of trees including books, pamphlets and YouTube demonstrations, so be sure to do your homework before you sharpen your tools and tackle this task. The same goes for planting bare root fruit trees.
They are showing up in garden centers now, but doing some research and deciding which variety is best for your tastes and location is good advice before you head out to buy one. They will require full sun and good drainage for a successful crop.
You may need to amend your soil before planting your tree but it will be worth it next year when you taste your first homegrown fruit!
The ideal form of removing weeds is manually, either by hand or using a long handled tool like a hoe, cultivator, weeding fork or oscillating weeding hoe,among the many other tools made for the job. Do it now, while they are still small, before they become large and spread out and control may demand more environmentally unfriendly means such as herbicides.
The UC IPM On-Line Resource Guide has a weed photo gallery to help you determine what kind of weeds you have (important if you need to use an herbicide).
It can also help you tell the difference between your reseeding annuals you have been waiting patiently for from last spring and those annoying sedges that are just starting to pop up! Just remember to put down a two to three inch layer of mulch to keep the weeds from coming back after you have worked so hard to eliminate them!
Not all stores sell bushes that do well in our area and you must be sure to find ones that are bred to thrive in a mild climate.
‘Southern High Bush' or ‘Rabbiteye' are two that do well here, however they still need specialized care.
There need to be at least two bushes for cross pollination and they need to be planted in an acid soil mix with good drainage, sitting a bit above the soil line in full sun.
Always fertilize with an acid based fertilizer such as one intended for azaleas and camellias, and you should eventually get those baskets of berries you have been dreaming about!
Use a uniform measure like a one-gallon coffee can to make it easy to figure out the amounts. Apply around the drip line (the area defined by the outermost circumference of a tree canopy where water drips from and onto the ground) up to two to three feet beyond and water in deeply.
Do not try to work it into the soil because it will disturb the roots that live in the top two feet of the soil.