Here it is: our deep 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.

And there are seasonal “opportunities” in the garden for January. 

We can:

Sow and plant

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

Cilantro seedlings ready for planting.

– Planting seedlings is safer than sowing seeds of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower in case the spring warms up fast

Sowing tomatoes indoors this month will mean plants are ready for putting into the garden in March

Plant cuttings of pomegranates and grapes

– Plant bare-root fruit and nut trees

– Plant blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries; this includes transplanting shoots or runners of these plants from your own mother plants

– Put in plants that are native to your neighborhood, especially in a part of your yard where you don’t want to irrigate; (my post on natives I’ve planted)

Manzanita in my yard with light pink flowers in January.

Harvest and eat

From your garden, here in January you can be eating . . .

– Vegetables: beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, greens (chard, collards, kale, mustard, turnip), green onions, lettuce, parsley, peas, potatoes

Cauliflowers and cabbage harvested in January.

– Fruits: avocados (Bacon, Zutano, Stewart, Fuerte, Ettinger, Puebla), citrus (grapefruit, limes, mandarins like Satsuma and Kishu, navel oranges like Washington and Cara Cara)

Two navel oranges that taste great 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 and pome fruits (apricot, plum, peach, pear, apple); you might also start grafting here in January

– Cut scion wood for grafting avocados, but it’s usually best to keep the scions in the fridge and wait until February or March to graft

Avocado scions ready for storage in the fridge.

– 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); see my post “Taking notes on your garden”

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