Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January Groundwork

January is here and it's not a time for slackers. It's time to prepare for Spring! January is the month to prune, plant, and dig holes. This is the time to think about expanding your garden. But, don't think too long. The dormant bare-root trees need to be planted before the roots dry out and the warm sun stimulates the buds to leaf out.

Here's the list for the month

  • Plant deciduous fruit trees. If you are planting bare-root trees, get them in the ground as soon as possible. Don't let the roots dry out. Take the tree out of the bag and set it in a barrel of water with a little vitamin B. Let it soak overnight. Have your holes pre-dug and soil mixture ready. Here is a list of fruit and nut trees for the low desert. Many nurseries have potted fruit trees available. You can plant these any time in the next few weeks.

  • Start taste testing citrus fruits for sweetness. Navel, sweet oranges, mandarins and tangelos are close to harvest time.

  • Continue to sow seeds or transplants of cool-season vegetables for a continuous supply of salad greens and root vegetables until warm weather arrives.

  • Time to plant bare-root roses. Find a location where roses have filtered afternoon shade. Valley nurseries have hundreds of roses available. Rose societies will be offering how-to clinics for pruning and planting. Take advantage of the expert knowledge of the valley rosarians. Check out the Maricopa County Extension's rose publication for more information.
  • Prune established roses to encourage optimum blooming in April. Cut all canes back to approximately one half. Cut canes back to an outward facing bud. Remove dead canes. Remove old or weak canes. Strip off all leaves and dispose of them. Seal all cuts with Elmer's glue to seal new cuts. Don't be afraid. Practice makes perfect.

  • Sow seeds of tomatoes, peppers eggplants and basil indoors in time to transplant in the garden in late February to early March.
  • Continue to watch for freezing temperatures and protect frost-tender plants. The last average frost date is around February 15th.
  • Watch for gray aphids on tender new growth and hose off regularly with a forceful spray of water. Also, looper-worms like to eat cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Check under leaves and near the base and pick off worms.

  • This is a great time to add color and texture to your garden. Plant cool weather annuals between your vegetables. Calendulas, johnny-jump-ups, pansy, petunias, snapdragons and stocks will continue to bloom until spring. Cool-season herbs include, dill, parsley, cilantro and thyme.
  • Prune deciduous fruit trees by the end of January or before flowering starts.
  • If you are an adventurous gardener, plant asparagus now.

Have a great new year, and enjoy spring gardening in the desert!

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