What to do in a Southern California garden in January

What to do in a Southern California garden in January

Here it is, our winter. In January only — and a couple weeks before and after — can we enjoy a fire in the fireplace and do we have the chance to see a little frost on the ground. Appreciate it before it’s warm again for 10 months.

And there are seasonal “opportunities” in the garden for January. (Don Shor of the Davis Garden Show likes to call them opportunities instead of jobs, tasks, or chores. I like that perspective.)

We can:

– Prune deciduous fruit trees and grape vines; it’s easy to see the structure of the bare branches now (here’s a good video on winter pruning from Tom Spellman of Dave Wilson Nursery)

– Put in plants that are native to your neighborhood, especially in a part of the yard where you don’t want to irrigate

– Collect or redirect rainwater so it sinks into your yard near your plants and isn’t lost into the street

– Walk around on a cold evening or morning to notice warmer and chillier spots; note them because later you’ll want to put plants in those spots that like those conditions

– Observe where afternoon shade is; don’t place your vegetable garden there unless you only want to grow in the summer

– Cut scion wood for grafting stone fruits (apricot, plum, peach, etc.); I have always had success with grafting stone fruit trees at the very end of January

– Take and plant cuttings of pomegranate and grapes at the very end of January too

– Buy and plant bare root fruit and nut trees, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, asparagus

– Transplant or just remove shoots of your raspberry plants and runners of your strawberry plants

– Sow peas, potatoes, carrots, lettuces and other greens, especially toward the end of January; you can sow or transplant some other vegetables (like broccoli), but January is not the ideal time for them

– Start a journal or calendar for notes for the new year; jot down weather observations, irrigation schedules, sowing and planting dates, arrival of pests, harvest times (next January you’ll thank yourself)