Garden Maintenance Fundamentals for S.F. Bay Area
There is so much to do in the garden, so let's break it down to month-by-month so that you can print the first page and put it on the inside of your garden shed:
Prune late-bloom deciduous fruit trees like pomegranates, figs, persimmons and also plums/pluots. You can wait on early flowering trees like peaches, nectarines, apricots. *
Prune Roses, Raspberries, Blackberries, Grapes if you have not done so at the end of the year.
End of January: Third spray for Peaches and Nectarines. If you missed earlier sprays in November or December, do one now.
Can start seeds for tomatoes and peppers indoors.
Plant bare-root roses and fruit trees.
Beginning of February: If you missed any spraying for Peaches and Nectarines, do it now before flowers or leaves show.
Prune roses if you missed in January. Make sure you are done by end of February.
Mid-February: First fertilization of the new year for Citrus trees.
Plant summer-blooming bulbs like gladiolas.
Continue planting bare-root roses and fruit trees.
End of February: It is too late to spray for Peaches and Nectarines since they will be showing flowers or leaves.
Plant more summer-blooming bulbs.
Check irrigation lines. Adjust schedule if not smart controller***
Irrigate new trees once a week. Irrigate established trees once a month.
"THE BIG PRUNE": Now that frost danger should be over, you can prune Citrus and warm-season grasses and summer-flowering shrubs. Spring-flowering shrubs are pruned AFTER flowering.
First fertilization of the new year for Citrus.
Prune Citrus if needed.
Plant summer veggies except those that love heat, like eggplant.
Prune early flowering fruit trees like peaches, nectarines, cherries and apricots AFTER enjoying the blooms.**
Seed cool-season grass lawns.
If you missed April pruning of cherries, etc, then do it now.
May 1: You can now plant heat loving veggies like eggplant.
Memorial Day: Fertilize deciduous fruit trees now.
Second fertilization of the year for Citrus.
Spray lawns for grubs. It is now warm enough for it to work.
Seed warm-season grass lawns.
Check irrigation and re-adjust schedule as needed.
Thin apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches to at least 2" in-between.
Thin apples to 6" in-between.
Net fruit trees to avoid birds and maybe squirrels****
Third fertilization of the year for Citrus.
Late July: Summer pruning for fruit trees.
Deadhead flowers like roses, azaleas, ...
Continue summer pruning for fruit trees as needed. This is probably best time to prune apricots (after fruit harvest).
Dust grapes with Sulfur.
If you have fruiting Olives and Ornamental Plums or Liquidambars, consider spraying with "Floral Fruit Eliminator" once during blooms to prevent fruits.
End of August: Start planting cool season vegetables like Sugar Snap Peas.
Last fertilization for Citrus for the year.
Prune apricots if you have not done so in August.
Labor Day: Fertilize again deciduous fruit trees.
Cut back the old, fruited canes of raspberries, blackberries.
If you missed some fertilization of trees, this is absolutely the last chance to do it.
Plant more cool season veggies.
With rains, plant new trees and shrubs, especially CA natives. Plant winter annuals.
Reduce irrigation if you do not have a smart controller.
End of November: First spray of dormant spray and cooper fungicide for Peaches and Nectarines: make sure all leaves are off the trees (give it a good shake).
If rains are here, stop watering, especially deciduous trees.
End of December: Second spray for Peaches and Nectarines. If you missed November spray, do the first one now.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs.
Additional information and Footnotes:
* Stone fruit blooms are so pretty that the trees are usually pruned AFTER flowers. You also do not want to let all of the fruit ripen: Thin to 2-3" for most stone fruit in the minimum.
**Example of pruning plums or pluots: These fruiting trees tend to send very long shoots during the summer. Vertical branches like these (called watersprouts) will not fruit.
*** Smart Irrigation Controllers: I will be writing a full blog post on options and settings in the future. But for now, I recommend Rachio or Hunter HydraWise and an additional rain sensor. Check your water district website for REBATEs!
**** I like to buy the large black bird nets and wrap a whole tree with it in a lollipop shape and tie all the loose ends at the trunk with green Velcro tape to make sure there are no gaps. Most of the fruit inside will be safe from squirrels. Note that rats tend to eat all the fruit on the outer edges. Best to set rat traps if you can.