January is generally cool, if not downright cold, so it's a good month to dig
future planting holes without the usual sweat and to get rid of winter weeds and
grasses. This is also the month to prune deciduous (i.e. lose leaves in
winter) fruit trees, roses and grapes. Pruning can be an involved subject,
so for specific information consult the Sunset Western Garden Book or call the
Maricopa County Extension Service at 602-470-8086. For
if you are not interested in lots of fruit production, just cut them back
however you want. For good fruit production, you must prune back
established plants severely following different rules for different varieties.
Sometimes stems will ooze lots of sap after pruning but this will stop after a
couple of days and will not hurt the plant. Established
are fast growers that rebound quickly from pruning and that can cover an arbor
or trellis in one season. Deciduous fruit trees (e.g.
Apricots, Apples, Plums, Nectarines,
are pruned when trees are dormant and leafless so that they don't lose lots of
sap from the cuts. Before embarking on a major pruning, snip off a branch
to see if lots of sap comes out. If so, wait. Since this season has
been fairly warm so far, many trees have held leaves longer and may not be
completely dormant. Pruning methods to promote fruit production differ
according to type.
require the most pruning. Major
pruning should be done during January before new growth starts. Seal cuts
with white wood glue or use a commercial sealer. Since leaves harbor
insect eggs and fungus spores, strip off any remaining leaves and dispose of all
trees with smooth bark and exposed trunks are subject to sunburn on the
south and west sides even in winter. If the trunk has been shaded by
a large stake next to it, this area will burn if exposed to the sun.
Burning is evidenced by a reddening and eventual blackening and cracking
of the bark usually on the sun exposed side. Avoid this problem by
applying tree paint, trunk wrap, shade fabric or latex paint diluted by
half with water.
Citrus, Ash, Bottle Trees & Fruit Trees
are especially susceptible.
looking ratty? You don't have to throw them away as they are
actually a tropical perennial that will grow outdoors here. They
need rich soil, protection from frost and from full summer sun. A
south or east exposure with an overhang is best. Unpruned plants in
the ground will get huge (10' or more tall) and will begin producing
colorful bracts in the late fall. Keep potted plants in a cool, well
lighted room. Plants may lose leaves and go dormant during which
time they need very little water. Plant out when frost danger has
passed. Fertilize several times through summer and early fall with
an all purpose plant food.
will have some ripe fruit in January. Taste fruit before harvesting
and remember that fruit stores best on trees.
are the most frost sensitive trees, while
are the most frost hardy.
"Plants are a
dirty business." says Barbara our shady garden lady, "so let's talk about
sex!" Among Carobs that is. Also known as St. John's
Bread, the Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is an evergreen tree or large
shrub from the Mediterranean Region. A slow growing plant, it is
quite drought tolerant once established. Old trees may be up to 30'
tall and as wide. The edible seed pods have a sweet, sugary pulp
which when ground is used as a chocolate substitute. Trees have only
male flowers, only female flowers or both male and female flowers.
You can tell its orientation when the tree flowers or fruits. The
male flowers produce stinky pollen, the female trees (when in the vicinity
of a male tree) produce messy seed pods, and the trees with both sexes
both stink and make a mess. Presumably the latter situations could
be avoided by planting a female only tree and making sure that there are
no males lurking about.