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: beets, carrots, greens (chard, collards, kale, mustard, turnip), lettuce, peas, potatoes (the blue words link to my posts on growing those crops in Southern California)

vegetable seedlings in January

– Sow seeds or plant seedlings of: broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, but be aware that a warmer-than-normal spring might mean poor results, especially for inland locations (so planting seedlings in January is safer)

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 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; (my post on natives I’ve planted like this)

Harvest and eat

From your garden, here in January you can/could . . .

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

Cauliflowers and cabbage harvested in January.

– Harvest and eat these fruits: avocados (Bacon, Fuerte, Ettinger, Puebla, Pinkerton, Sir-Prize), citrus (grapefruit, limes, mandarins like Satsuma and Kishu, navel oranges)

Sir-Prize avocado cut in half
Sir-Prize avocados start to get tasty 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 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 it in the fridge and wait until February or March to graft

– 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”

All of my Yard Posts are listed HERE

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