January Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“Anyone who thinks gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year; for gardening begins in January with the dream.” — Josephine Nuese
Asparagus photo from Rutgers website
Asparagus—a Perennial Vegetable
Asparagus is a vegetable that can produce for several years; you just need a little patience to wait for the first harvest. You can plant it from crowns in the winter. Choose crowns with nice firm roots. Amend your soil with compost and dig a trench about ten inches deep. Place the crowns at the bottom of the trench with the roots spread out. Cover with a couple inches of soil, then water well. As the plants start to grow, add more soil, leaving a few inches of the shoots exposed. Continue to do this as the shoots grow until the trench is filled in. It’s best to wait until the third year to harvest the spears to give the plant a chance to establish itself to produce for years to come. Cut spears with a knife just below the soil line.  

Prime-Ark 45 blackberry fro mCalifornia Agriculture website
Blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries, ollalies and other cane berries can be planted from bare root now. The easiest and least expensive way to plant berries is from dormant, bare-root plants. They do best in well-drained soil with mulch applied on top. Provide trellising at the time of planting so that you don’t get scratched up later trying to control the direction of growth. For established plants, cut the canes that bore fruit last year to the ground if you didn’t already do it after harvesting the berries. 

Icicles in pear terr at Emma Prusch Park 2007 - Allen Buchinski
Frost Protection
We are in the middle of our frost season which historically runs approximately November 15–March 15. If the temperature is cold during the day and the sky is clear, there will be a risk of frost overnight. If your frost-sensitive plants are in containers, you can move them under the eaves or into the garage overnight. Otherwise, you can cover them with old sheets or similar cloth material, taking care to avoid direct contact with the foliage. Except for succulents, keep plants well-watered and keep their soil moist to help them survive frost. Uncover plants during the day to allow for sun and air circulation. If you do find frost damage, wait until the spring to prune it out. This helps protect remaining foliage against further damage. It also allows you to see what is truly dead as opposed to what will recover with new spring growth.

Freezing and Frost , University of California
Photo: icicles in pear tree at Emma Prusch Park in 2007, by Allen Buchinski
Fruit tree framework terms
Pruning Fruit Trees
This is the time of year to prune most fruit trees (not apricots) and fruiting vines. Pruning deciduous trees and vines while they are dormant allows you to better see and develop the structure of the plant. Keep in mind the relative importance of your goals: size/health/fruit production. First cut out any dead or diseased branches. Then prune branches that are crossing or growing at strange angles. Lastly, make the pruning cuts that will shape the plant and keep it healthy and producing well. Trace each branch back to the trunk to make sure you are balancing the tree. 

Illustration: California Master Gardener Handbook with credit to Westwood, M. N. 1993. Temperate-zone pomology: Physiology and culture. Portland, OR: Timber Press.
Calla - U. Minnesota Extension
Zantedeschia aethiopica , commonly known as a calla or calla lily, is an evergreen perennial in wet climates and deciduous in climates with a dry season. Although they may seem to die here after blooming, they will come back up year after year. Plant them now or in the next couple months. Place the rhizomes four inches deep in well-drained soil. They do well in partial shade or full sun, with regular water. The original white ones are hardier than the colorful hybrids. The flowers have great significance in the art and culture of Mexico. If you want to be botanically correct, don’t call them calla lilies; they are not a true member of the lily family. 

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Martial Cottle Park Teaching Pavilion at the 2018 Fall Market by Hank Morales
Upcoming Events
We offer lots of free or low-cost gardening talks, workshops, and courses all over the county, as well as hosting information tables at many community events. Please join us and bring your questions!

Sat, Jan 5, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.,  Pruning Deciduous Trees , St. Louise Hospital Teaching & Demo Garden, 9400 No Name Uno Way,  Gilroy

Mon, Jan 7, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Growing Citrus Successfully , Morgan Hill Library, 60 W Main Ave,  Morgan Hill

Wed, Jan 9, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Easy to Grow- Quick Maturing Winter Vegetables , Gilroy Library, 350 W 6th St,  Gilroy

Sat, Jan 12, 3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.,  Marvelous Succulents: How to Grow and Create Attractive Containers , Willow Glen Public Library, 1157 Minnesota Ave,  San Jose

Wed, Jan 16, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Winning the War on Weeds , Sunnyvale Library, 665 W Olive Ave,  Sunnyvale

Wed, Jan 16, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Top Ten Habits of Happy and Successful Gardeners , Milpitas Library, 160 N Main St.,  Milpitas

Sat, Jan 19, 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.,  Winter Care of Roses , Berryessa Library, 3355 Noble Ave,  San Jose

Wed, Jan 23, 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.,  Growing Container Microgreens at Home , Calabazas Library, 1230 S Blaney Ave,  San Jose

Sat, Jan 26, 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.,  Fruit Tree Selection and Care , Sunnyvale Public Library, 665 W Olive Ave,  Sunnyvale

Mon, Jan 28, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.,  Fruit Tree Care: Stone Fruit, Apples, and Pears (Three Week Course), Sunnyvale Adult School, Vallco Campus, 10123 North Wolfe Road,  Cupertino

Wed, Jan 30, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Back Yard Fruit Tree Basics , Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Road,  Los Altos

Wed, Feb 06, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.,  Vertebrate Pest Control in the Home Garden , Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Ave City,  Cupertino
Visit the UC Master Gardener Program website  for additional information including an up-to-date list of events and classes .

Have a gardening question? Contact our Help Desk (for Santa Clara County residents). Start by reviewing our plant  problem diagnosis tips .
  • Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 408-282-3105
  • Fri ONLY 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m., 650-329-1356 (Closed Dec. & Jan.)
  • Or send us your question online

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program volunteers are trained under the auspices of the UCCE. Our mission is to promote sustainable gardening practices by providing up-to-date, research-based horticultural information to home gardeners.

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