Fruit Trees - Bare Root
When you visit your local nursery in January, you will find a wonderful but bewildering selection of very reasonably priced bare-root fruit trees. January and February are the best months for planting these trees. We suggest reading this excellent article from UCANR before making your selection: Selecting Fruit and Nut Trees. Also important to read is this article by Stephanie as well as this article by Gwen, both on planting bare root trees.
Fruit Trees - Pruning
In the Garden
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Food Garden Tips
January Food Garden Tasks and Tips
For what to plant this month, click here.
- Plant bare-root fruit trees, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, and asparagus. Plant onion bulbs. Your nursery will have a great selection in early January. Our homepage lists articles on planting bare-root trees.
- It is too early to plant most cool weather crops. Instead, enjoy a rainy day looking through seed catalogs to select crop varieties with “days of maturity” (DTM) that suit your microclimate. As always, err on the conservative side and consider drought-tolerant varieties and those with short DTM. Check the date stamped on the package of any seeds left over from last year. Many seeds are good for at least three years if stored properly, but some, such as onion, parsley and parsnip, lose viability after one year. You can check your seeds for viability: refer to the seed-viability test.
- Prepare a garden plan that includes what to plant, where to plant and when to start seed indoors and/or set out transplants. Plan to place crops with similar water needs near each other. New gardeners should keep it simple: start with transplants unless it is a crop that is recommended for direct seeding in the garden. The experienced gardener will want to make the most of garden space by planting a succession garden which typically involves succession planting, companion planting and intercropping.
- When planning your spring garden, implement water-wise practices. See the “Food Gardening with Less Water” page and video prepared by the Food Gardening Specialists.
- Buy a calendar to record planting and, based on DTM, harvest dates. Make notes as to your successes/favorites and failures. If you kept a record last year, use it in your garden planning decisions.
- If you only have space for a small vegetable bed, modify your garden plan to include edibles in your ornamental beds that you may have.
- Plant bare root fruit trees.
- Spray fruit trees with copper and dormant oil after pruning and before buds start to open.
- Protect frost-tender plants on cold nights. If you use a tarp or sheet on evergreen plants, use stakes to make sure that covers do not touch the leaves. Remove plastic or heavy covers during the day; frost cloth may stay in place on cold days. If you use lights as a heat source, note that the new energy-saving LED light strings do not generate enough heat. Pull mulch away from the plant so that soil can absorb heat during sunny days. Potted plants can be moved under shelter. Finally, make sure that citrus is well-watered as the freezing temps will turn the water in the soil to ice, making some of it unavailable to the plants. Also, the temperature above moist soil is warmer than the temperature above dry soil.
- Good soil = healthy plants. Top your soil with finished compost. This will improve soil nutrition and tilth and feed the beneficial microorganisms that help plants uptake nutrients in the soil. No need to work it in—let winter showers and soil “heaving” do that for you. In any event, do not work very wet soil. If you had serious problems in your food garden last year, a soil analysis may be helpful. Many local nurseries have kits for this purpose. The analysis will show levels of nitrogen (N) which encourages green growth, phosphorus (P) which stimulates root growth and potassium (K) which promotes flower bud and fruit growth. In addition to other nutrients, the test also measures pH (measure of acidity or alkalinity) which affects the availability of nutrients to plants.
- Click here for ongoing monthly tasks.