Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Clean and Sharpen Pruning Tools
Make sure you are ready for the winter pruning season by sharpening your clippers, loppers and pruning saws. Use small flat files to sharpen clipper blades, and small round files to sharpen individual saw teeth. Make sure you keep the file at a constant angle to the blade and sharpen in one direction only, not back and forth. Treat handles to a light coating of linseed oil and moving parts to a shot of lubricating oil.
Care for Indoor Plants
As the outside temperatures drop, the heater goes on inside the house. Dry, warm air is ideal for spider mites, mealybugs and scale insects. Check indoor plants frequently for insect infestation, and treat with a soap/oil spray as soon as you see them. Mist plants frequently to keep humidity high, or use a humidity tray made by placing gravel in the saucer under each plant. Water collects in the gravel and evaporates back up through the foliage to provide much needed humidity.
Make Deer Repellent
Deer are moving down from the hills in search of water and food. If you live in a rural area, you may experience the "amazing disappearing garden trick" unless you come up with a plan to deter hungry deer from foraging in your yard. Try this recipe for homemade deer repellent: 1 beaten egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon liquid soap, hot chili peppers, 1 quart water. Mix in blender, strain through cheesecloth, and store in the refrigerator. Apply by pouring the mixture into a sprayer and frequently misting susceptible foliage, especially after a rain or irrigation.
Now is the ideal time to plant garlic for June harvest. All you need is a head of garlic from the grocery store; a sunny site; and rich, well-drained soil. Separate the head into individual cloves and plant, pointed end up, 4 to 6 inches apart in the ground. Don't press them too deeply into the soil -- 1-1/2 to 2 inches below the surface is perfect.
Clean Up Under Fruit Trees
Rake and remove fallen leaves and fruit from under fruit trees. Insect pests can overwinter in decomposing fruit left on the ground and in leaf litter, and fungus diseases such as peach leaf curl can overwinter in fallen debris. By removing the plant debris, you improve your chances for a quality crop next year.