Plant Before and After Rain

Picture

Peas finally coming up.
Picture

chard, cilantro, beets, tatsoi coming up in a jumble. Either harvest all of them when they’re small and tender, or transplant them where they’ll each get their own space.
Picture

Carrots took up to 3 weeks to finally germinate.
Picture

Last year’s growth of grapes pulled up and anchored on top trellis with clothespins. This coming year’s side growth will bear fruit.
Picture

Like grapes, last year’s growth of boysenberries pulled up and anchored on top trellis with clothespins.
Picture

Last year’s growth touched the soil and rooted. These can be cut off with 4 nodes of branch and planted; foliage will grow from these nodes and accomplish photosynthesis, establishing new root system.
Picture

First tomatoes planted and watered in.
Picture

Succulent cuttings now nicely rooted and some are blooming.
Picture

Bell peppers bear well through the winter as long as there’s no frost. Weird for a summer- and hot-weather lover, but lovely to have those crispy peppers for salads!
Picture

Volunteer Sungold tomato found among the boysenberry vines.
Picture

Full-size tatsoi ready to harvest.
Picture

Same tatsoi plant after harvesting large outer leaves. It’ll continue growing, and I’ll continue harvesting, until it finally bolts (goes to seed) in the early summer.
Picture

Baby bok choy bolting as a result of last week’s over-80-degree heat. Fortunately, leaves and stem and blossoms are even sweeter-tasting than when it was growing regularly. So, I’ll keep harvesting it down to the bottom leaves and wait for more shoots coming up from those nodes to harvest.
Picture

Justicia branch with leaves trimmed across and potted up. More half-leaves instead of fewer full-leaves guarantee that photosynthesis can be accomplished even if an animal breaks off one or two leaves.
Picture

Cauliflower “button” caused by stress. Cauliflower is notorious for this. Because this is a one-time harvest, pull the plant, compost it, and plant something else.
Picture

Rooted fig that was dug up and transplanted had lost all its leaves but has now resprouted new foliage. Yay!
Picture

Mulberry puts out blossoms and fruit following fall pruning to shorten long branches.
Picture

Rosemary blooming.
Picture

Bulbine blossoms all year long except for about 2 months from Thanksgiving to mid-January.
Picture

First nerine of the season.
Picture

Peruvian Daffodil – Hymenocalis festalis and sunflower.
Picture

Salvia lutea has brown blossoms contrasting with gray foliage.
Picture

Species poinsettia, from which all the other colors and shapes are derived.
Picture

First alstroemeria of the year.
Picture

Succulent bloom lasts just a day.
Picture

Earliest camellia.
Picture

Plectranthus’ sky-blue bloom on variegated foliage.
Picture

This year’s first nasturtium. I love it as living-mulch groundcover until it dies in summer.
Picture

Hardenbergia brightens winter with its tiny pea-like lilac blossoms and lime-green center spots. Years ago, I found out accidentally that if I don’t prune this plant after July 4, it’d create a waterfall effect of blooms in January/February. So now I purposely follow this regimen!
With our promised rain for this weekend and next week, be sure to prepare your seeding trays and your garden beds to transplant whatever’s available at nurseries. Seeding and transplanting will both be more successful when the entire area of soil is moist to at least a six-inch depth. And, as you winter-prune your fruit trees and perennials, you can propagate the trimmings to share with fellow gardeners.

Seeding

  • Some seeds to start either in trays or in the soil include celery, chard, cilantro, kale, leeks, lettuces, mustards, green and bulb onions, parsley, peas, radishes, and spinaches.
  • Sow root crops like beets and carrots and turnips directly into the soil where they’ll mature. Their long roots want to grow straight down without being interrupted or grow curly because they’ve hit a rock or been transplanted (since you can’t really position that long skinny root to be really straight).
  • For wildflowers, scatter directly where they’ll grow. Sow some right before the promised rain and another batch right after the rain so both batches of seeds can lodge in moist soil from the first rain and then get another sprinkling with the next rain to settle the seeds in even further.
  • Plant garlic cloves, bulb onion sets, and shallots directly into the soil where they’ll mature. Once they’ve extended their roots, they don’t like being disturbed without a setback.

Transplanting

  • Transplant more cool-season perennial roots like artichoke and asparagus crowns and rhubarb rhizomes, grapes and berry vines, and strawberries, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, celery, chard, chives, cilantro, kale, leeks, lettuces, mustards, parsley, and spinaches.
  • Of the warm-season crops, transplant ONLY tomatoes, which do fine when placed into the chilly soil. However, DON’T PLANT ANYTHING ELSE that thrives in warm weather, like cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and squash, even if they’re in the nursery. If you transplant these now, they’ll just sit and pout at you, as if angry that you’ve stuck them into cold soil, and they’ll never really recover and thrive even once the weather and soil stay consistently warm. Best to wait until the weather is consistently above 70 degrees, and the soil feels barely cool to the touch (test with the palm of your hand). Then, the transplants will thrive as they develop in the warmth.

Use Prunings To Propagate New Plants

  • Take cuttings of fig trees that have about 8 nodes (where the leaves emerge from the stem), cut just below the bottom node, place into a 1-gallon pot with either soil or potting mix, water in, and place in bright light to root. In a couple of months, tug on the cutting, and if it resists it probably has developed some initial roots. Keep moist in the container through the summer and into the fall as it develops foliage. Transplant then, once the beating heat of summer has passed but the soil is still nice and warm to help the extensive root system develop more fully as it gradually acclimates to cooler weather for overwintering. Remove any fruits that form so all the plant’s energy goes into extending its root system. Next June and August you’ll have a strong plant and a great crop!
  • Dig clumps of perennials, separate into smaller groups, and replant. To propagate perennial plants like Justicia and sage and geraniums, cut a branch right below the 6th or 7th node. Keep the top 4 or 5 leaves, but cut larger ones in half crosswise to lessen the amount of foliage that must be supported as the roots develop. If you remove too many entire leaves instead of leaving these half-leaves, there’s the risk that a pet or other animal (or you) will break too many off so the plant can’t do its photosynthesis to enable the plant to root.

Frost Still Possible

  • The end of January is the “average” last frost for our area, but higher altitudes may still get some frost a bit later.
  • Frost is most likely on dry, windless, clear nights.
  • Plants are less susceptible to frost damage when they have been sufficiently watered so the soil or planter mix remains barely moist.
  • Frost settles straight down, so best to provide coverings directly above plants. Side coverings can be additionally helpful, but the top coverings are critical.
  • Keep frost-protection coverings, especially those made of plastic sheeting, away from directly touching the foliage, or the foliage may more readily freeze.

More Gardening Tips
For more timely gardening tips, see January and February.

Peas finally coming up. chard, cilantro, beets, tatsoi coming up in a jumble. Either harvest all of them when they’re small and tender, or transplant them where they’ll each get their own space. Carrots took up to 3 weeks to finally germinate. Last year’s growth of grapes pulled up and anchored on top trellis with clothespins. This coming year’s side growth will bear fruit. Like grapes, last year’s growth o […]

Picture

Peas finally coming up.
Picture

chard, cilantro, beets, tatsoi coming up in a jumble. Either harvest all of them when they’re small and tender, or transplant them where they’ll each get their own space.
Picture

Carrots took up to 3 weeks to finally germinate.
Picture

Last year’s growth of grapes pulled up and anchored on top trellis with clothespins. This coming year’s side growth will bear fruit.
Picture

Like grapes, last year’s growth of boysenberries pulled up and anchored on top trellis with clothespins.
Picture

Last year’s growth touched the soil and rooted. These can be cut off with 4 nodes of branch and planted; foliage will grow from these nodes and accomplish photosynthesis, establishing new root system.
Picture

First tomatoes planted and watered in.
Picture

Succulent cuttings now nicely rooted and some are blooming.
Picture

Bell peppers bear well through the winter as long as there’s no frost. Weird for a summer- and hot-weather lover, but lovely to have those crispy peppers for salads!
Picture

Volunteer Sungold tomato found among the boysenberry vines.
Picture

Full-size tatsoi ready to harvest.
Picture

Same tatsoi plant after harvesting large outer leaves. It’ll continue growing, and I’ll continue harvesting, until it finally bolts (goes to seed) in the early summer.
Picture

Baby bok choy bolting as a result of last week’s over-80-degree heat. Fortunately, leaves and stem and blossoms are even sweeter-tasting than when it was growing regularly. So, I’ll keep harvesting it down to the bottom leaves and wait for more shoots coming up from those nodes to harvest.
Picture

Justicia branch with leaves trimmed across and potted up. More half-leaves instead of fewer full-leaves guarantee that photosynthesis can be accomplished even if an animal breaks off one or two leaves.
Picture

Cauliflower “button” caused by stress. Cauliflower is notorious for this. Because this is a one-time harvest, pull the plant, compost it, and plant something else.
Picture

Rooted fig that was dug up and transplanted had lost all its leaves but has now resprouted new foliage. Yay!
Picture

Mulberry puts out blossoms and fruit following fall pruning to shorten long branches.
Picture

Rosemary blooming.
Picture

Bulbine blossoms all year long except for about 2 months from Thanksgiving to mid-January.
Picture

First nerine of the season.
Picture

Peruvian Daffodil – Hymenocalis festalis and sunflower.
Picture

Salvia lutea has brown blossoms contrasting with gray foliage.
Picture

Species poinsettia, from which all the other colors and shapes are derived.
Picture

First alstroemeria of the year.
Picture

Succulent bloom lasts just a day.
Picture

Earliest camellia.
Picture

Plectranthus’ sky-blue bloom on variegated foliage.
Picture

This year’s first nasturtium. I love it as living-mulch groundcover until it dies in summer.
Picture

Hardenbergia brightens winter with its tiny pea-like lilac blossoms and lime-green center spots. Years ago, I found out accidentally that if I don’t prune this plant after July 4, it’d create a waterfall effect of blooms in January/February. So now I purposely follow this regimen!
With our promised rain for this weekend and next week, be sure to prepare your seeding trays and your garden beds to transplant whatever’s available at nurseries. Seeding and transplanting will both be more successful when the entire area of soil is moist to at least a six-inch depth. And, as you winter-prune your fruit trees and perennials, you can propagate the trimmings to share with fellow gardeners.

Seeding

  • Some seeds to start either in trays or in the soil include celery, chard, cilantro, kale, leeks, lettuces, mustards, green and bulb onions, parsley, peas, radishes, and spinaches.
  • Sow root crops like beets and carrots and turnips directly into the soil where they’ll mature. Their long roots want to grow straight down without being interrupted or grow curly because they’ve hit a rock or been transplanted (since you can’t really position that long skinny root to be really straight).
  • For wildflowers, scatter directly where they’ll grow. Sow some right before the promised rain and another batch right after the rain so both batches of seeds can lodge in moist soil from the first rain and then get another sprinkling with the next rain to settle the seeds in even further.
  • Plant garlic cloves, bulb onion sets, and shallots directly into the soil where they’ll mature. Once they’ve extended their roots, they don’t like being disturbed without a setback.

Transplanting

  • Transplant more cool-season perennial roots like artichoke and asparagus crowns and rhubarb rhizomes, grapes and berry vines, and strawberries, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, celery, chard, chives, cilantro, kale, leeks, lettuces, mustards, parsley, and spinaches.
  • Of the warm-season crops, transplant ONLY tomatoes, which do fine when placed into the chilly soil. However, DON’T PLANT ANYTHING ELSE that thrives in warm weather, like cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and squash, even if they’re in the nursery. If you transplant these now, they’ll just sit and pout at you, as if angry that you’ve stuck them into cold soil, and they’ll never really recover and thrive even once the weather and soil stay consistently warm. Best to wait until the weather is consistently above 70 degrees, and the soil feels barely cool to the touch (test with the palm of your hand). Then, the transplants will thrive as they develop in the warmth.

Use Prunings To Propagate New Plants

  • Take cuttings of fig trees that have about 8 nodes (where the leaves emerge from the stem), cut just below the bottom node, place into a 1-gallon pot with either soil or potting mix, water in, and place in bright light to root. In a couple of months, tug on the cutting, and if it resists it probably has developed some initial roots. Keep moist in the container through the summer and into the fall as it develops foliage. Transplant then, once the beating heat of summer has passed but the soil is still nice and warm to help the extensive root system develop more fully as it gradually acclimates to cooler weather for overwintering. Remove any fruits that form so all the plant’s energy goes into extending its root system. Next June and August you’ll have a strong plant and a great crop!
  • Dig clumps of perennials, separate into smaller groups, and replant. To propagate perennial plants like Justicia and sage and geraniums, cut a branch right below the 6th or 7th node. Keep the top 4 or 5 leaves, but cut larger ones in half crosswise to lessen the amount of foliage that must be supported as the roots develop. If you remove too many entire leaves instead of leaving these half-leaves, there’s the risk that a pet or other animal (or you) will break too many off so the plant can’t do its photosynthesis to enable the plant to root.

Frost Still Possible

  • The end of January is the “average” last frost for our area, but higher altitudes may still get some frost a bit later.
  • Frost is most likely on dry, windless, clear nights.
  • Plants are less susceptible to frost damage when they have been sufficiently watered so the soil or planter mix remains barely moist.
  • Frost settles straight down, so best to provide coverings directly above plants. Side coverings can be additionally helpful, but the top coverings are critical.
  • Keep frost-protection coverings, especially those made of plastic sheeting, away from directly touching the foliage, or the foliage may more readily freeze.

More Gardening Tips
For more timely gardening tips, see January and February.

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