The most fun garden chore at this time of year is planning spring, summer and fall gardens. It is difficult to not become inspired by leafing through the seed catalogs that offer the promise of new flowers, vegetables and other plants to try.
It is easy to ignore the recommended growing zones, but it is important to pay attention to them. In our area, we are USDA zone 9b, with a little 9a thrown in to keep it interesting. What that means to us is that if the zone range in the plant description doesn’t include the number 9, then no matter how appealing it might be, we should pass. Growing plants suited to our zone allows us the best opportunities for success.
A plant that needs any shade at all will not make it here if it is planted where it receives full sun from morning to evening.
Once you’ve taken these important considerations, you can make your choices by deciding on things like color and size (for ornamentals) or flavor profiles and harvest times (for fruit and vegetables).
All the chores are not indoors, though. January is the perfect time to remove any “mummies” that might remain on your fruit trees. Mummies are the remnants of last year’s crop, hanging onto the tree. This is a necessary chore, along with removing any fruit that might be on the ground, too. Doing so will lessen the chance of attracting diseases and harmful insects.
Now is also a great time to spray your fruit trees. It is important to check before choosing a spray. (The best way: Call a Master Gardener at the hotline number below.) Expect to spray now, or soon, and again in a few weeks.
While you prepare to spray, spend a little time pruning in preparation for spring. Now is the time to prune deciduous fruit trees, grapes and berries, too.
With a little work out in the garden and a little time spent planning, you can be on your way to a great year in the garden!
• University of California-certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for Heather Hamilton can be sent to email@example.com.