January to do list for your garden

By Rebecca Jepsen
for the Mercury News
January 2, 2009

Fruit tree pruning is best done in January and February. Prune off dead or damaged branches. Open up the tree's canopy by removing crossing branches. After pruning, apply a dormant oil spray to ward off scale, mealy bugs, whiteflies and mites. Pruning should be completed by the end of February before buds begin to open.

Fire proofing within the first 30 feet of your home can mean the difference of saving or losing your home. Never plant pines, junipers, eucalyptus or greasewood trees within this zone — they are high in oils and resins and are extremely flammable. Keep brush and small branches trimmed away from structures. Small plants, no taller than 18 inches and fire resistant ground covers are recommended. For more information on fire proof landscaping and an extensive list of plants, go to: www.bewaterwise.com/fire02.html

Moss and algae in the lawn can be caused by many things. It may be caused by poor drainage, too much water, compacted soil, restricted air flow, or a soil imbalance. Reduce watering, aerate soil, perform a soils test — pH should have an acidity range between 6-7. An application of fertilizer will help with moss, but reduce fertilizer if algae is the problem.

For a complete list of January Gardening Tips, click on: www.mastergardeners.org/tips/january.html

What to plant now

Bare root: Roses, fruit trees, berries, artichokes, perennials.

Transplants: Onions, garlic, chard, lettuce, rutabagas. Local nurseries should have a good supply of most of these.

Seeds
: Fava beans, bell beans, salsify, chard, radishes.

Find a list of cool season vegetables at http://mastergardeners.org/picks/cool.html  or call the hotline, (408) 282-3105.

- Rebecca Jepsen, Santa Clara County Master Gardener