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. (Rough life?)

Have any of your trees finally lost all of their leaves? Enjoy that look while it lasts too. Next month, trees will already start blooming and leafing out again. Winter is brief indeed here in the Southland.

Glad we finally got that rain on January 9! Longest dry spell in recorded history for Southern California, it was, since the last real rain on February 27, 2017. Now we have a landscape of changed faces. Winter weed seeds are germinating, native plants are coming back to life, the vegetable garden is standing tall.

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:

Sow and plant

– Sow seeds or plant seedlings of these vegetables: beets, carrots, greens (chard, collards, kale, mustard, turnip), lettuce, peas, potatoes

vegetable seedlings in January

– Plant seedlings of these vegetables: broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, but be aware that a warmer-than-normal spring might mean poor results

Plant cuttings of pomegranate and grapes at the very end of January

– Plant bare-root fruit and nut trees, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, asparagus

planting bare-root Fan-stil pear

Planting a bare-root Fan-stil pear. All together now.

– Transplant shoots of your raspberries and runners of your strawberries

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


Harvest and eat

Had you planted them, then here in January you can . . .

– Harvest and eat these vegetables: beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, greens (chard, collards, kale, mustard, turnip), lettuce, peas, potatoes

– Harvest and eat these fruits: avocados (Bacon, Fuerte, Hass), citrus (grapefruit, limes, mandarins like Satsuma and Kishu, navel oranges)

Sir-Prize avocado cut in half

Sir-Prize avocados are another tasty variety that is ready to harvest here in January.



– 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); my best advice on pruning fruit trees is to keep them small

– 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

– 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)


You might also like to read:

What to do in a Southern California garden in December

What to do in a Southern California garden in February