If you want to stay ahead of the game in the garden, now is a good time to do some, or all, of the things on today's list.
Fruit-tree pruning is best done this month and in February. Trim off dead or damaged branches. Open up the tree's canopy by removing crossing branches. After pruning, apply a dormant oil spray to ward off scale, mealy bugs, whiteflies, and mites. Pruning should be completed by the end of February before buds begin to open. Aso see the UC Publication on Fruit Trees: Training and Pruning Deciduous Trees.
Don't prune frost damage yet. Tender plants may have suffered from our December frosts, but pruning them early can do additional harm. Wait until the chance of frost has passed, probably mid-March, before removing unsightly leaves and branches.
Fireproofing the area within 30 feet of your home can mean the difference between saving or losing it in a blaze. Never plant pines, junipers, eucalyptus or greasewood trees within this zone, since they are high in oils and resins, and so extremely flammable. Keep brush and small branches trimmed back from structures. Small plants, no taller than 18 inches, and fire-resistant groundcovers are recommended. See UC's publication on Home Landscaping for Fire for more information.
Moss and algae in the lawn is usually caused by neglect. Specifically, it may mean poor drainage, too much water, soil compaction, restriction of airflow, too much thatch or a soil imbalance. Reduce watering, dethatch, aerate to reduce compaction and/or perform a soil test. The pH level should have an acidity range between 6-7. An application of fertilizer will with help eliminate the moss, while algae needs a reduction of fertility.
Frost-protect sensitive plants by keeping soil moist and covering plants with a blanket or cloth during the night when there are warnings of a possible freeze. If possible, move outdoor potted plants under eaves, preferably on the east or south side of the house.
Move houseplants to a bright, sunny location. Clean foliage by washing sturdy leaves with a moist cloth or rinsing the entire plant under a tepid shower. Dust leaves of succulents with a soft brush.
- Find a complete list of January Gardening Tips.
By bare root: artichokes, asparagus, blackberries, grape vines, onions, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, roses, fruit trees, perennials.
By seed: arugula, Asian greens, bell beans, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, peas, salsify, spinach.
- Find a list of cool-season vegetables that do well in Santa Clara County.
by UC Master Gardener Rebecca Jepsen
Pruning photo: Kenneth Silver/Newport News Daily Press
Bare root plants photo: Courtesy DIY Network
This article first appeared in the January 7 print issue of the San Jose Mercury News.