Friday, January 8, 2016

January Gardening Chores For Your Best Garden Ever

It's a new year and I am here with some January gardening tips. As you know I live in a mild climate and January gardening in Southern California is far different than a lot of the country, so what I might be able to do, you might have to wait on, but many things can be done as long as you are not deep in snow and can access the soil.

garden seeds, Burpee seeds

January Garden Chores

1. Soil: Clear out old plants from your vegetable garden and turn soil. If it is frozen you will have to wait but for us that is not a problem. Turning allows birds to clean out larvae of bugs and exposes to sunlight. If you have a compost pile, turn the pile and start adding compost to prepare beds for planting.

We do not have the benefit of killing frosts and freezes to kill diseases and have to be careful to thoroughly clear away all old plants that harbor diseases like tomatoes often can.

If you have a compost pile, turn the pile and start adding compost to prepare beds. Do not add anything to your compost that you lost to blight or disease. Just dispose of those in the garbage. If you do not make your own compost than buy enough to put a good 2-3 inch layer on top of your existing beds. I also put a good layer of compost around the base of my fruit trees and even across the top of my containers.

Also, if you have cats or your neighbors do, ensure that the new soft soil you just prepared does not invite cats to poop in your planters. I know from experience because I just planted a new barrel with greens and left uncovered thinking the rain we were having would keep the cats away. Nope, found a big pile right in the center and to be careful of any contamination I just cleaned the cat poop up and dumped the soil. Not going to eat salad greens from that soil. So ALWAYS cover with wire or plastic. I use old plant trays and love the way they cover and the seedlings can grow right up through.

2. Dormant pruning: This is the time to prune dormant trees and vines. When the trees are bare you can easily see what needs to be pruned. Remember you want sunlight in the tree structure so trim away cris-crossing branches and branches that shoot straight up out of good horizontal branches.

If you need to spray trees, this is a good time to spray with dormant oils.

For fruit bearing vines, I would google the type of vine you have. We have blackberry vines in our backyard and have decided to treat it as a small hedge so we just keep it cut back like an ornamental shrub to keep it in check and from having it spread out of the small planter it is in. It is also a good time to dig up suckers to keep them in check.

Plastic containers to cover seedlings

3. Seed Starting: Now is the time to order seeds and to start them indoors. This is probably one of the funnest parts of the January garden to do list. Here in a southern California garden, we can direct sow cool season crops. I love to spend as little as possible and consider myself a frugal gardener using items I have to start seeds and get my seedlings growing.

4. Planting: This is a good time to get new bare root trees and vines as well as ornamentals in the ground if you can work your soil. Here in southern California, this is a good time for planting because soils are wet from rains and the late fall heat is passed. I love the practice of intensive gardening and try not to walk on and compact my soils any more than I have to.

5. Garden Planning: Now is a great time to start that garden journal or planner you have always meant to do. Garden planners are a wonderful way to put down a garden plan to plot your beds and to make notes so you can compare and remember garden notes from year to year. Next year you will know exactly what your January gardening tasks are if you list them this year and can make notes as to what worked and what garden chores may need tweaking. Plan now for your best garden ever!

1 comment:

  1. I always love the pics of your gardens. I have for years. Here in Oklahoma and especially on the farm there are so many animals that roam. Keeping them out of my garden and off my plants is so frustrating.