January garden jobs reap big rewards in spring and summer. Here are some handy hints and some of the garden jobs that need to be done in January/February. The work you do now will pay off all summer long.
Prune your fruit trees now to keep them low enough that you pick can the fruit without falling off the ladder. Even if you did a summer pruning it doesn’t hurt to do some more. If you have an old big tree doing successive pruning’s will gradually bring the size down.
Be sure you rake up any leaves and branches after you prune. This is where the fungal spores hide to be ready for their summer peach leaf curl attack.
Spray your dormant fruit trees with a liquid Copper spray and any Horticultural oil spray. Especially Peaches and Nectarines to prevent that ugly peach leaf curl appearance in summer. If you wait for summer when the leaves curl it is too late!
Spray again when the leaf buds turn pink and start to come out. What is the Pink bud stage? Going on line for images is the easy way to understand it.
This is a bit tricky because different fruit trees will start to leaf out at various times. Weidner’s has a Liqui-Cop hose end sprayer that might be a good thing to have on hand. Copper works on fungi and the oil smothers all the other sleeping insects and eggs.
Plant bare root fruit trees now. How to choose the best ones.
Remember the saying Measure twice and cut once.
For your January Fruit decisions, it is Ask questions first and buy next.
Look first at what your family likes to eat. Second at the space available. Third at how much you want to plant now and what will come later on.
Look at all the varieties and get what you like to eat. Figs, blueberries some of the new Zaiger varieties that give you a blend of flavors Lots of delicious figs are out there too. A multi budded 4 in 1 that will give you a little bit of different fruit for that smaller yard space.
For more fruit try using the property line to plant a close row of trees or plant 3 trees close together in one hole.
Go to Dave Wilson Nurseryhttp://www.davewilson.com/ to get even more information.
Unless your soil is really bad, plant your trees in your own soil.
Be sure you see and understand that bump on the tree trunk above the roots. That is the bud where that special fruit tree variety has been grafted onto a strong study disease resistant root stock. Sometimes you will get fast vigorous growth coming out below that graft. That is BAD growth that you do not want. Cut it off.
When you plant, the graft must always be above the soil. Yes, you probably do want to cut your newly purchased fruit tree off at about the 3-foot level. This will help to keep your tree short so that you get the fruit and not the birds.
Hint: If you are not sure if your soil drain well now is the time to dig that hole and see how long it takes to drain out. Go to http://learn.eartheasy.com/ -easy-ways-to-assess-your-soil-for-gardening/ This is a really good website with all sorts of ways to find out what kind of soil you have. Citrus does not do well in heavy soil. If you have clay build a box with sides but no bottom so you can plant mostly above ground.
More citrus information.
Any citrus not blooming should get a winter oil spray. This smothers scale, aphids, mealybugs and more and still allows the beneficial insects to work. Prune away any branches that touch the ground or other trees. This helps cut off the ants Freeway to your citrus. A band of Tanglefoot sticky glue around the trunk also helps. Remember Ants usually indicate insects and they are not on your side of the battle.
Citrus can be home to so many pesky insects that anything you can do now is a help. Young citrus trees may well have Citrus leaf miner problems later in the season. Check back then for what and when to do something about them.
All this wonderful rain turns the hills green and the weeds in your garden do grow like weeds. Small weeds in wet soil are easy to remove and an easy excuse for not cleaning up the Garage or some other not so fun job. Weed, weed and more weeding keeps those little weeds from becoming monsters. If you are actually hoeing out weeds be sure you gather and dispose of them. In this wet weather they can have a nasty habit of just starting to grow again in a new spot.
Snails and slugs love the rainy weather and there are busy laying eggs to hatch in spring. Use nontoxic snail bait. Small amounts more often. One snail can lay hundreds of eggs in a very short time. Snails that have lain dormant on walls and tree trunks will wake up and come to life. They will all start eating up your vegetables. Diatomaceous earth makes a barrier but chances are the snails already find your garden a friendly home. Removing old pots or boards where snails or slugs can congregate is a good January job. Beer is always a good snail attractor and at least the snails will die happy.
Right now, the skunks and Racoons are really doing a job tearing up lawns to find grubs to eat. Beneficial Nematodes work underground to destroy these grubs but the soil may be too cold now for the Nematodes to work. These microscopic good little nematodes however can and will stay alive and wait for spring to start to work as long as the soil is damp. Order on line.
One possible trick to try is a solution of 4T. of Liquid dish soap in 2 gallons of water. Sprinkle the areas that might have grubs. This solution is supposed to bring them up to the surface and you can then feed them to the chickens or dispose of them.
What about cold weather. What should you do? Storms from the Pacific are warm storms, storms from Alaska bring freezing cold. Gather up all the tender potted plants and basket and bring them into warmer spot. Cover with frost cloth or sheets.
Remember that many Succulents can freeze too. If you have frost damage don’t cut off the damaged foliage. Leave it on until spring and then trim it back.
If you have a Brunfelsia plant with those beautiful purple flowers now is a good time to give it a double strength feeding. This will give you a heavier bloom in spring. You can also prune back any branches that are too long or in need of shaping. You will not kill it.
Prune Fuchsias and repot if needed. You should cut back fuchsias that are planted in the ground by at least one half. Take out thin or dead branches. The same with basket fuchsias. Go all the way back to the edge of the pot. As soon as new growth starts out and is about 3 inches long you pinch off the tip. Keep on doing that until you have a nice bushy plant. Then stop and wait for it to bloom.
Fuchsias bloom on the ends of new branches. The more branches you have the more flowers you will get.
Begonia jobs for January
Your tuberous begonias should be sleeping now. The foliage should all have fallen off. That gorgeous orange Encanto Begonia is often the last to go to sleep. It is also the very last one to wake up. Sometimes it is even May before she decides to spring into life. Never give up. If you can feel the hard tuber just under the soil, chances are it will come to life. If you have tuberous begonias in the ground, they may well get too wet and rot. Sorry!
Other Begonias like Dragon Wings etc. Do nothing at all. They will look ugly with long bare branches. Wait until you see new growth at the base and then you can snap off all the ugly old stems. Upright large leaf begonias can be cut back fairly hard some time in February.
Mandevillas and Dipladenias do not like cold wet roots. January has brought us rain. Check to be sure they are not getting run off from your roof. Protect them from excess water if necessary.
Other January jobs. If you didn’t put in winter vegetables now is the time to clear out the old summer leftovers. Rake up all the leftovers so disease doesn’t stay in soil. Amend the soil while it is nice and easy to dig.
What about worms? Caterpillar worms. Believe it or not we still have some of those caterpillars out there munching away. A quick spray with non-toxic Bt will take care of them.
Gophers are beginning to be active. Now is the time to act before all the young gophers are ready to attack. Look for the fresh mounds of wet soil. Poke the ground with a sharp stick until you feel the run. If you are setting traps, set one going in each direction and be sure to fasten the trap to a stick so that the gopher does not get your trap too.
So, is there anything fun about January in San Diego? Pansies bloom all winter and they don’t freeze. Cyclamen add color in shady areas and bloom almost forever. Dutch Iris, Daffodils and Ranunculus will soon be in bloom.
Count your blessings that you live here. You could be shoveling snow. Spring will soon be here in all her glory and the work you do now will pay off.
This is a May job but it is good to remind everyone now.
Remember to thin fruits as soon as they are about the size of an almond. Remove the fruit that is clustered together or at the very end of a branch. Leaving too many small fruits on a branch will result in smaller fruit and branch breakage.