1. Home-grown Washington navel oranges are good enough now to use as gifts – as well as enjoy yourself. When harvesting oranges, be sure to cut the stem off flat, leaving the green starburst that attaches it to the fruit. This helps oranges to last longer after picking, without shriveling. Use the smallest oranges for juice.
2. Provide life-saving nutrition stations for birds during winter. Not only will your feathered guests enjoy a regular supply of seeds and other goodies, they will also appreciate a source of fresh water, too. And it’s especially fun if you can watch them through a window or sliding glass doors. Then in spring and summer, the omnivores among them will repay you by eating many of the insect pests that would otherwise plague your garden.
3. Prune back dying stems on asparagus and artichoke plants during December or before mid-January. Asparagus and artichoke plants go dormant this time of year, and the old stems turn brown and become unattractive. Cut off unsightly old stems clear to the ground. This will greatly improve the appearance of your winter landscape.
4. If you have houseplants, keep in mind that they are going dormant just like the plants outside. They need the winter rest, too, so stop feeding them until spring. Also, they don’t need so much water, so irrigate them less often. Be careful that they are not in the path of heaters, vents, or fireplaces and are not too close to cold drafts from windows or doors. Indoor plants always do best with temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. Temperatures lower than 60 and higher than 80 will set them back.
5. Most of us can turn off automatic sprinklers for fruit trees, roses and landscape beds now – until spring. Most plants need very little extra water in winter. But we will still need to irrigate occasionally if weather remains dry, or if we hit an unseasonable warm spell or get Santa Ana winds. Make a note on your calendar to turn the automatic sprinklers back on about March.
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