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The New Year Brings New Gardening Opportunities in Southern California

While January and winter weather mean the end of gardening activities in many parts of the United States, it’s the best time to plant in Southern California.

Plant fruit trees: A variety of bare root fruit trees are in nurseries ready to be planted in January. Varieties include apricot, blueberry, plum, apple, pear, peach, and raspberry. Give the trees a boost by adding an organic compost planting mix to the soil to increase soil aeration and maintain moisture.

Add artichokes: Add artichoke plants to your garden. Plant them 4 feet apart. They begin their growth process in winter and begin to sprout artichoke heads in spring. These hardy perennial vegetables can produce artichokes year after year.

Planting garlic cloves: Separate the cloves from a garlic bulb. Plant them pointy side up and about 7 to 8 inches deep. The garlic plants will soon poke their heads out of the soil and grow through the winter. They can easily withstand cold winter nights. The new garlic bulbs with their juicy cloves will be ready to harvest in late spring or early summer.

Continue mulching to reduce weeds: Every rain (no matter how infrequent) means more weeds in the garden. Weeds seem to disappear faster than any vegetable or flower plant. To keep weeds in check, make sure you have a several-inch layer of mulch wherever weeds may appear. If weeds are already taking root, remove them before mulching the area.

Planting Wildflowers From Seeds: First, rake the area of ​​the flower bed. Sprinkle with California poppies and other wildflowers and cover lightly with soil. Sow more seeds just before rain to encourage continued spring flower production.

Moving live Christmas trees outside: Live Christmas trees should be kept indoors for as short a time as possible. Once planted outdoors, pine trees can easily grow 40 to 50 feet tall. Its strong root system will, over time, spread and can easily crack concrete walkways that get in its way. Be sure to plant your tree in a location that can accommodate such a large tree.

Prolonging the life of poinsettias: Poinsettia flowers will generally stay healthy until March. After March, cut back the stems to no more than eight inches tall. By June, new growth will begin. Keep the plant exposed to indirect, natural sunlight and the soil moderately moist. When the weather warms up, take the plant outside and transplant it into a larger pot. Prune as needed to make the plant bushy. The flowers will begin to grow in October and will reach their beauty peak in November and December.

Buy a rain barrel: Don’t let roof rainwater runoff go to waste. Many cities and counties offer rebates when purchasing rain barrels. These barrels can typically hold 50 gallons of water, water that can be used to water your garden.

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