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Tips to Get Your Garden Ready Now for Springtime

January is a good time to lay the groundwork

With the average January rainfall in Southern California about 3 inches, gardeners have opportunities this month to spend time outdoors preparing their yards for the spring growing season, according to experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material from more than 50 Southern California communities, including many in Santa Barbara County.

» Plant dormant trees: January is the perfect month to plant dormant trees. Plants that go dormant in winter (stop growing and lose leaves) include most deciduous trees such as maples, poplars, ashes, birches and oaks. A local nursery should have a variety of these plus bare root rose, vine and fruit trees, including apricot, plum, apple, pear and peach. Add organic compost planting mix to existing soil when planting so the soil is the right consistency to receive nutrients and water. Stay away from planting citrus and avocado trees if frost is a concern.

» Prune dormant trees: Prune dead, diseased limbs or overgrowth. Doing so strengthens the remaining branches and encourages new, stronger growth in the spring. Remove any new growth at the tree’s base or unwieldy stems from branches. Avoid pruning large, well-established branches. This can cause stress on the tree and stunt growth. Now is your opportunity to shape the tree so it looks its finest in spring. Winter is also a good time to trim evergreens.

» Use mulch as a defense against weeds: Only a small amount of rain can mean an onslaught of new weed growth. Place a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch in garden beds and other landscaped areas. The mulch will prevent sunlight from penetrating the soil and keep weed seeds from sprouting. By adding mulch now and eliminating new weed growth, you’ll be saved from the hassle of pulling weeds in spring. Mulch also helps to regulate soil temperature so frost damage is less of a worry.

» Add color to your flower garden: There is no reason your garden can’t be in full bloom in winter. Add cool-season annuals, including pansies, snapdragons, linaria and calendulas. These flowers can withstand temperatures in the low to mid-30s.

» Maintain your winter garden: By now, some of your cool-season vegetables, including peas, lettuce and spinach, should be producing their crop. Pick these vegetables continuously to promote more vegetable growth. There is still time to plant artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and strawberries for a late spring, early summer harvest.

» Plant your living Christmas tree: Once the holidays are over, move your living Christmas tree outdoors as soon as possible. Keep these trees indoors for only seven to 10 days. Staying inside longer could result in the tree breaking dormancy, preventing it from surviving once moved outside. After Christmas, place the tree outdoors in a shaded area for a few days before finding a sunny, well-draining location for planting.

» Recycle your cut Christmas tree: Many cities offer curbside Christmas tree collection during the two weeks after Christmas. Remove all ornaments, lights and tinsel, saw the tree in half and place the tree in your green materials recycling barrel. If you live in a city without curbside tree recycling, check with your waste collector for a drop-off location. Every year, Christmas trees are recycled into mulch that is then used in agriculture and in home and business landscaping.

Click here for more gardening tips.

Agromin manufactures earth-friendly soil products for farmers, landscapers and gardeners. Agromin is also the organics recycler for more than 50 Southern California communities. Each month, Agromin receives more than 30,000 tons of organic material and then uses a safe, natural and sustainable process to transform the material into premium soil products. The results are more vigorous and healthier plants and gardens, and on the conservation side, the opportunity to close the recycling loop, allow more room in landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

— Diane Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.

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