Even though the wind may be brisk outside, doing a few January chores will ensure a healthy and vibrant garden in the spring.
Now is the time to plant bare root trees such as apples, peaches, pears and plums. If you have established deciduous fruit trees, prune before leaf buds form. To control peach leaf curl on deciduous trees, spray with copper or lime sulfur mixed with horticultural oil (following label instructions), but do not spray apricot trees with lime sulfur.
Plant bare root roses or lilacs for a fragrant and colorful spring and prune established roses. Remove dead or damaged branches and clean all debris away from the base of the plant. As oranges, limes and lemons continue to produce, harvest fruit as it ripens.
Even though you cleaned your gutters at the start of winter, you may need to clean again due to fallen leaves now that most of the trees are bare. Also make sure to rake fallen leaves as they will smother grass if left in place.
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Replenish mulch to keep soil from compacting and to keep newly sprouted weeds at bay. Protect succulents when hard frosts are in the forecast, moving tender succulents under cover. Or, if the pots are too heavy to move, cover in place.
If the weather is too intolerable, you can always clean your gardening tools. Remove visible rust, wash and dry tools well. After drying, oil metal and wood parts of a tool to prevent further rust and cracking of wooden handles.
As the holiday season ends, rather than placing your Christmas tree in your green waste, check to see if there is a drop-off location for chipping and mulching of trees in your area.
Finally, spend those cold winter nights poring over seed and summer bulb catalogs. You will need to order soon to have all your seeds and plants ready for your spring garden. Make sure to order at least one new variety of your favorite vegetable to try something new.
GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners at 781-5939 on Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. in San Luis Obispo; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon in Arroyo Grande; or at 434-4105 on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at http://groups.ucanr.org /slomg or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .