Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Prune Deciduous Plants
Get your clippers ready, it's almost time for the deciduous pruning. Fruit trees and roses benefit from a midwinter grooming. Use sharp shears to remove any wood that is dead, diseased, or injured, or that has grown through the center of the plant. With fruit trees, remove water sprouts at the base and leave the fruiting spurs. They can be identified as dark brown, crooked stems. Water sprouts grow straight up and are usually pale in color. Reduce the overall height of the plants so you can reach the fruit and enjoy the roses at eye level.
Use Dormant Spray
After pruning, apply a dormant-season spray such as copper/oil or lime/sulfur to eliminate overwintering insect pests. Mix according to label directions and apply on a day with very little wind to avoid spray drift.
Winter annuals such as pansies, stocks, and calendula, and some winter vegetables appreciate occasional cultivation to incorporate oxygen into the soil. Compacted, soggy soil can harbor fungus disease. By opening the soil surface, the roots can grab the air they need to thrive. Use an Ames hoe or another cultivating tool. Be careful not to disturb the plants by going too close to the stems.
Amaryllis is a magnificent bulb flower that must be grown indoors in all but the most mild climates. Select large, firm bulbs, pot in a 6-inch clay pot, and place on a sunny windowsill. Water immediately after potting, then again when the soil feels dry to the touch. The flower stalks will begin to appear and amaze you with their vigor. Enjoy the flowers indoors until they fade. Then remove the entire stalk at the base. Once the weather warms in the spring, set the potted amaryllis outdoors for the summer.
Store Garden Hoses
You won't be needing your hardworking garden hoses for a few months. Collect them from the garden now to prevent damage from cold weather. Remove nozzles and drain the water out of the hoses, then screw the ends together so spiders and earwigs can't get inside. Finally, coil and store the hoses in the garage or garden shed for the remainder of the winter.