This time of year most of us are just staring at the gray sky, thankful for the rains but wondering when we can start playing again. Don't worry, there's plenty to do! I started my winter vegetable garden in mid October and have been reaping the rewards since December. First there were the radishes that seem to grow over night. Then rainbow kale (why bother with green kale when you can get "greens" in brilliant reds and yellows) along with other "Chinese" greens. Now for the last few weeks I've been getting some great turnips and carrots, all of which started from seed.
I am not a big fan of roses or at least have not found any that I am too wild about. However, if you do have them, you should be cutting them back now if you haven't already. I have also pruned my grapes, my nectarine tree and have cut back my butterfly bushes.
A word on pruning- it is not nearly as difficult as some folks make it sound. A few easy rules I follow:
1. Don't cut the bud. If you want a bud to grow, leave it be and cut after the bud (a bud is that little knot on the branch from which a new branch will grow).
2. Cut everything growing down. This is especially true for fruit trees. I just run my hand below each branch and whenever I run into another branch starting to grow down from my first branch I cut it. If you don't do this with your fruit trees the weight of the fruits will break the branch wasting all the energy your tree spend growing that branch and the fruit in the first place!
3. Use good SHARP shears when pruning, you do not want to rip branches off. For bushes I like to cut so the tops are curved. But just remember, you will not kill your bush from a bad pruning job- it will grow back, it just may look funny for awhile!