New year, same challenges; how do you make your garden better? Start with some simple winter tasks (including a few for indoors):
• Get a calendar – or start a journal. If you don’t already do it, start keeping track of your garden activity and observations, especially any additions (you will plant something in 2014) or subtractions (tree removal, dead shrubs, summer annuals, etc.) plus seasonal chores such as pruning and spraying. This will help in future planning and decision making. The squares on a large new 2014 calendar are enough space for many garden notes. Hang the calendar in a handy spot (such as a shed or garage door) where you’re sure to see it often. You also can post reminders (feed the lawn, spray the fruit trees, etc.). A journal (which can be digital) allows for photos and more notes.
Need a calendar? Local master gardeners offer great calendars/garden guides with loads of useful tips. Look for them at area nurseries or contact your local UC Cooperative Extension office.
• Let yourself dream. Allow time to browse garden catalogs (in print or online) for seeds and supplies. For a Burpee catalog, go to www.burpee.com and follow the “request a catalog” link. Or call 800-888-1447.
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• Prune, prune, prune! This is rose-pruning season. Trim back bushes. Need advice? Attend a local rose society event (see Garden Activities or Garden Calendar).
• Clean up leaves and debris around fruit trees and rose bushes to prevent the spread of disease.
• Apply oil to fruit trees soon after a rain to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective. Don’t apply on foggy days.
• Spray a copper-based oil on peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl.
• In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.
• Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.
– Debbie Arrington