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January Gardening Tasks

Happy New Year everyone!

Here is a copy of an article I read recently in the San Francisco Chronicle that I though I’d share…

January and February can be cruel to the garden. They’re the rainiest and coldest months. Protective gardeners watch out for the cold clear nights that signal frost damage to tender plants such as bougainvillea, citrus, fuchsias and succulents. Cover plants that are open to the sky by setting stakes in the ground and draping burlap, plastic or sheets over the stakes. Cardboard boxes also make good covers. Remember to remove the covering the next morning when the temperature rises. Wrap the trunks of young, tender citrus trees in burlap or paper. Another frost-protecting technique is to spray plants with an anti-transpirant. Move frost-susceptible container-grown plants under the eaves of an overhanging roof or beneath a leafy tree until mid-March.

Shop catalogs. Despite the gardener’s best efforts, one of these nights a killer frost is likely to descend and, come spring, there will be great yawning gaps in the garden. So tend to those garden catalogs; opportunities will arise.

— Damage control. As for those frost-damaged plants, wait to prune blackened branches until March, when the true damage will be more apparent. Mother Nature often stages amazing comebacks.

— Buy bare roots. Now’s the time to take advantage of the bare-root season, that once-a-year chance to buy plants without soil clinging to their roots. Bare-root plants are cheaper and easier to plant. An entire orchard or rose garden will fit into the trunk of your car.

— Step lightly. Remember that soggy garden soil should not be walked on. This is particularly true of clay soils, which compact easily. Wait until the soil dries out some before walking on it.

— Plant living Christmas trees. Living Christmas trees should be brought outdoors and watered well. If you plant a living Christmas tree in the ground, remember that most of them grow very large and for that reason, calculate where their shade will fall in years to come.

— Transition holiday plants. Garden plants used indoors for the holidays such as azalea, cyclamen or hydrangea should be put outside in a sheltered spot until you are ready to give them a permanent home.

— Prune hybrid tea roses. Cut back canes, a third to a half, leaving canes at least 18 inches long. Cut above a swelling bud pointing out from the center. Remove all suckers and dead wood. They bloom only on new wood so don’t worry about doing a great job, just be sure to get out there and do it.

— Prune climbing roses. Remove twiggy growth and weak shoots. Prune canes that flowered last year to three or four buds. Do not prune old garden roses unless you know where to prune. Old garden roses are very individual.

— Spray roses and fruit trees. Use horticultural oil mixed with water to kill overwintering insect eggs, mites, soft-bodied insects and some scales.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/01/HO0L1B17PR.DTL&type=homeandgarden#ixzz0bf2Vj3Rp

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