An Alameda Garden: What to Do in the Garden in January

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What to Do in the Garden in January

I always feel like January is like a reboot of the garden. Time to wipe away whatever didn't work last year or what you may be tired of this year and start fresh. El Nino rains are helping to ease the effects of the drought but they may also be presenting challenges of their own. Let's get busy planning, planting, pruning and more to make this our best garden year!


  • This it the time to think about what you want to accomplish in your garden this year. What problem do you want to solve? What new feature would you like to add? What new plant would you like to try growing? Then take stock of how your garden looks right now--winter is a great time to really see the bones of your garden--and make a plan for how you're going to move closer to having the garden of your dreams.
  • If you're going to be growing from seed, you should be reviewing seed catalogs and putting in your orders. But before you order, maybe you better sort through the stock of seeds you already have. Toss out the seed packs that are too old and test the viability of those that are of a questionable age.
  • If you still have a lawn, this is a good time to clean and tune-up your lawn mower.
  • Shop your local nurseries or mail-order nurseries for bare-root roses and trees.
  • Are you seeing areas of soil erosion? Make a note to address these spots by planting groundcovers or taking other action in the spring.


  • Pot up cool-season annual flowers for quick hits of color in the winter landscape.
  • In areas that don't experience hard frosts, plant cool-season edibles such as artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, radishes, and spinach. In frost-prone areas, you can still plant many of these as long as you provide protection such as a cold frame.
  • In zones 9-11, plant bare-root roses.
  • Plant bare-root fruit trees.


  • Clean, sharpen, and organize tools.
  • Prune deciduous trees, grape vines, roses (unless your region is subject to hard frosts), and most vines (wisteria and clematis are exceptions).


  • At long last, El Nino is taking care of the watering for us! Now the task is to watch for signs of over-watering, such as yellowing and dropping leaves. It may help if you redirect the flow of rainwater from downspouts and re-locate potted plants (or tip them to drain excess water).


  • Only fertilize plants that are actively growing at this time. Applying a side-dressing of compost is the best way to get nutrients to your plants without having most of it wash away in the rain.


  • If you've had problems with pests or diseases on your deciduous trees, this is a good time to apply a dormant spray--but only if there is no rain forecast for at least 36 hours.
For more details on caring for your garden each month, check out my book, California Month-by-Month Gardening.

1 comment:

  1. Ohh!!! Really informative post. It will help to make a beautiful garden. Thank you so much for this great post. And expecting more tips from you. Keep sharing :)


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