January Garden Almanac
January is the second month of winter. January is named for Janus, the two-faced Roman god of new beginnings and transitions. Native Americans called January the Wolf Month because hungry wolves would come closer to villages.
January can be the coldest month of the year in the Sonoma Valley. Watch for signs of approaching frost: a cloudless sky, still air (no wind), cold (less than 45°F by 10 p.m.), and dry.
Annuals: Plant cool-season alyssum, dianthus, Dusty miller, Iceland poppy, Johnny-Jump Up, larkspur, lobelia, nemesia, ornamental kale, Paludosum Daisy, candytuft, pansy, phlox, primrose, snapdragon, stock, and Sweet William.
Perennials: Browse plant catalogues and websites to choose perennials for the garden.
Bulbs: Garden centers will have summer-blooming bulbs for sale. Add aged-compost to bulb beds.
Roses: Bare-root roses are available at local nurseries. Plant roses where they will get six hours of full sun each day. Prune roses this month - remove dead and diseased branches. Spray roses with horticultural oil to smother insects and diseases that may have overwintered.
Shrubs: Plant camellias and azaleas. Protect tender shrubs with a plant blanket when frost or freezing weather is predicted; remove the cover when temperatures rise. You can also spray cold-sensitive plants with an anti-transpirant.
Trees: Do not fertilize trees in the winter; fertilizing will stimulate new growth that can be harmed by freezing weather. If there is little or no rain, water trees every 45 to 60 days during winter.
Vegetables and herbs: Prepare new planting beds and old by adding aged-compost to create a nutrient-rich and well-textured soil. Artichokes, asparagus, and rhubarb are available as bare-root plants at nurseries. Choose crowns that are solid. Harvest cool-season vegetables such as cabbage-family crops. Continue to plant winter vegetables from transplants.
Fruits and berries: Bare-root fruit trees and berries are at nurseries this month; soak bare-root plants in a tub of water for two hours before planting. Dormant spray deciduous trees with horticultural oil when temperatures are above 45°F with no rainfall for 72 hours to smother overwintering insects; spray lime sulfur to control disease. Spray peach and apricot trees for peach leaf curl.
Garden maintenance: Check sprinklers, emitters, and irrigation lines and repair them before spring. Apply a pre-emergent to suppress weeds before they appear. Protect plants from browsing deer by applying olfactory repellants, erecting physical barriers, or planting deer-resistant plants. Watch for beetle infestations of oaks and tanoaks. Use chicken wire to protect young plants from squirrels, rabbits, and deer.
Native plants: Pay attention to native plants that grow nearby. Manzanitas with their clusters of white or pink-white bell-like flowers are in bloom this month. Also blooming are currants, gooseberries, and Silk Tassels.
Nature alerts: Fill bird feeders and keep an eye out for winter inhabitants; look for Oregon juncos. Cold nights and wet ground will make for thick pockets of fog in wet areas. January is the peak of the mating season for newts. Gray whales are migrating north this month; good whale-watching spots in Sonoma County are Salt Point State Park and Bodega Head.
Kenwood weather averages: Temperature: Average High 59°F, Low 39°F, Mean 49°F; Average Precipitation 5.93 inches; Record High 85°F (1962), Record Low 17°F (1937).
Sunrise and sunset: Sunrise on the 1st 7:27 a.m., Sunset on the 1st 4:59 p.m.; Sunrise on the 31st 7:17 a.m., Sunset on the 31st 5:30 p.m.
Moon: Full on Jan. 4; Last quarter/waning on Jan. 13; New on Jan. 20; First quarter/waxing on Jan. 26. Based on the Moon's phases the best days for planting above ground crops are the 4th, 22nd, and 23rd; below ground crops the 14th and 15th.
- prepared by Steve Albert
Steve Albert is the author of The Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide available at Amazon.com. He teaches in the landscape design program at the U.C. Berkeley Extension. He lives in Oakmont.