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What your garden needs right now


Photo by Nico Toutenhoofd - Detroit Free PressAdd unusual bulbs to your garden like this Tulipa Schrenkii from Old House Garden Bulbs.

Photo by Nico Toutenhoofd – Detroit Free PressAdd unusual bulbs to your garden like this Tulipa Schrenkii from Old House Garden Bulbs.






For serious gardeners, the winter season is a less hectic but important one. Here are some tips categorized in what I call my “Seven Ps” — plan, plant, prune, provide, prevent, protect and prioritize.

Plan

If you don’t already have seed and plant catalogs pouring into your mailbox or email inbox, start with some of my favorites.

For heirlooms, I like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com). You can also shop in person at its Petaluma Seed Bank showroom. For unusual bulbs, I like Old House Garden Bulbs (www.oldhoursgardens.com) or Humboldt County’s Telos Rare Bulbs (www.telosrarebulbs.com).

For edibles, I drive up to the Occidental Arts Ecology Center (www.oaec.org) in Occidental for heirloom-certified organic, open-pollinated plants.

Gone native? Try Larner Seeds in Bolinas or Mostly Natives Nursery in Tomales. Main Street Trees in Napa grows and sells native trees and shrubs and The Wildflower Seed Co. in St. Helena sells a California native wildflower mix.

Incorporate firescaping techniques and plants in the garden design to protect your home and neighboring properties.

Introduce design into your garden if you haven’t done so already. New design apps will help you create stylish and practical traditional, modern, Japanese, native, vegetable and small gardens.

Plant

Winter is ideal for planting bareroot trees, roses, shrubs and vines. They tend to be less expensive than those that have been potted up and nurtured for months in a nursery. Make sure to dig generous holes and do not to plant trees underneath overhead wires.

You’ll soon start seeing wonderful edible options such as berry and grapes vines, asparagus crowns, artichoke plants and fruit trees in nurseries. Indulge! Choose only those plants that are compatible with your microclimate, soil, wind and watering conditions.

If you are talented with seeds, start lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, leeks, broccoli and cauliflower, among other vegetables, indoors now.

Prune

Wait until the weather warms up before pruning any frostbitten plant now. It could further traumatize the plant. Shelter it from further cold and give it time to recover.

Trim back sleeping vines, fruit trees, grape vines, hydrangeas, buddleia, penstemon, salvias, and the ornamental grasses that bloomed so beautifully in your garden over summertime.

Divide clumps of bulbs and tubers.

Provide

Fertilize established citrus trees with extra nitrogen. Even when it rains, plants under overhangs need water, and houseplants if in warm homes, need extra moisture.

Adjust your irrigation system with free weekly email or Twitter alerts from the Marin Municipal Water District based on your climate zone, irrigation system and plant types. Sign up at (www.marinwater.org)

Prevent

To keep gardens free from over-wintering pests and diseases, keep them free from dead plant material. Dispose of spent flowers and plants, dead or moldy leaves, and fallen produce. A dormant spray can help, too.

Clear away ivy and other dense plantings from your home’s exterior and you clear away easy hiding places for rodents. Check every inch of your home’s perimeter to make sure there isn’t a hole more than the size of a dime that can allow rodents inside.

Discourage rodents from damaging citrus trees by applying Bonide Repels All.

Screen windows so spiders, moths and other insects stay outside.

Overturn rainwater as it collects in pots, wheelbarrows or other containers to prevent mosquito breeding and the spread of West Nile disease.

Mulch now and you’ll save on water bills, soil erosion and time spent weeding later. Keep mulch pulled back from citrus trees, though, so the soil can warm up during sunny days, Pull up weeds now while the soil is soft.

Protect

Winter is a fabulous time to assess your landscape. Fallen leaves have laid bare the structure of arbors, and deciduous trees, shrubs and bushes. Rains can draw attention to leaking gutters and rooftops or soggy landscapes. Mud can wash away from fence bottoms exposing rotted wood and rodents may have found a shortcut into your home. Take notes and photographs so you can remember to fix things.

Succulents, citrus and tropicals can be damaged during cold spells. Shelter container plants in a warm space near a protective wall, or a corner of walls, under an overhang. Alternatively, spray them with an anti-transpirant product, such as Cloud Cover, or wrap their trunks in a thermal wrap.

Prioritize

Gardening tasks are ongoing but don’t get overwhelmed. I like to focus on the most important tasks now that will save me time, money, energy and grief later. And, whenever possible, enlist help.

Don’t-miss events

• Learn how to identify, collect and grow edible mushrooms and avoid the toxic ones in “Mushroom Cultivation” in a seven-week class from 1:10 to 3 p.m Jan. 30 to March 20 (no class Feb. 20) at Indian Valley Campus at 1800 Ignacio Blvd. in Novato. The cost is $138. Register at 415-485-9305 or www.marincommunityed.com.

• See free-flying monarchs, Western swallowtails, painted ladies and more at the “Butterflies and Blooms” exhibit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays through March 15, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 16 through Oct. 30. The exhibit will close for maintenance from Jan. 17 through 22. Admission is $8. The Conservatory is at 100 John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Call 415-831-2090 or go to www.conservatoryofflowers.org.

• Ready, set, prune! In this free “Fruit Tree Pruning and Planting” class, gardeners will learn techniques to prune one fruit tree or a home orchard for fruitful production and how to choose a pruner. Classes will be at 9 a.m. Jan. 7 at Armstrong Garden Centers at 130 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in San Anselmo (415-453-2701) or 1430 South Novato Blvd. in Novato (415-878-0493) www.armstronggarden.com.

• Learn how to create aesthetically pleasing and healthy and productive fruit trees with garden designer Elizabeth Ruiz in a “Fruit Tree Pruning 101” seminar at 1 p.m. Jan. 22 at 401 Miller Ave. in Mill Valley; 10 a.m. on Jan. 29 at 700 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Kentfield (415-454-0262); and noon January 29 at 2000 Novato Blvd. in Novato (415-897-2169). Free for members, or $10. To register, call or go to www.sloatgardens.com.

• Make a wooden candlestick, oil lamp holder and small bowl during “A Taste of Turning” workshop with Geo Monley from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 28 and March 7 at the Tamalpais High School Wood Shop at 700 Miller Ave. in Mill Valley and costs $86. Register at 415-945-3730 or www.marinlearn.org.

PJ Bremier writes on home, garden, design and entertaining topics every Saturday and also on her blog at DesignSwirl.co. She may be contacted at P.O. Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at pj@pjbremier.com.

Article source: http://www.marinij.com/lifestyle/20161230/what-your-garden-needs-right-now