If you opted for a living Christmas tree, you should now hurry up and plant it outside before it breaks dormancy. Give it a large hole and if you have clay soil, add some gypsum to break up the clay. Some compost will also help get the tree off to a good start.
To protect your evergreens, give them some water every two or three weeks. Water your bushes and perennials too unless we get plenty of winter moisture.
Now is the time to spray dormant oil on your fruit trees. If you had problems with fungus, scab, and mold, try spraying trees with Bordeaux copper mixture. This spray is a mixture of copper sulfate and lime with water.
If you haven’t pruned your trees already, now is a good time to consider it. Pruning is not an exact science. It is more an art form. You have to develop your own feel for what has to be done. Reading some of the books on pruning can be rather confusing and contradictory. A bush tree should be thinned. Crossing, horizontal, and drooping branches should be cut. Cut all suckers, both in the tree and from roots. Consider sterilizing your cutters and loppers between trees to avoid spreading disease.
In the meantime, plan ahead for the coming spring planting and enjoy the seed catalogs.
Review your past gardening year’s winners and losers. Try to figure out the best timing for planting. Maybe you planted too soon and some of the babies froze. Maybe you can plant some cold hardy variety two weeks early just to see what happens.
This might be a good year for companion planting or a radical plant rotation. Let your imagination go wild! Glen’s philosophy is, “You can grow anything anywhere if you just provide the right environment.”
We get a lot of questions at this time of year about wood ashes in the garden – the catchword here is, moderation. A little may not hurt, but too much can injure your garden for years. Remember, soils in Arizona tends to be alkaline and adding wood ash will make your soil even more alkaline. You are probably better off disposing of ashes when it is safe to do so.