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Tips provided by the Alameda County Master Gardeners

Winter Months: Although it is cold outside, the early months of the year are important for getting your garden off to a good start.


  • Plan your summer garden. For vegetable variety recommendations for areas near coastal California,  consider the recommendations from our test garden. Another useful resource for gardeners whose plots are influenced by the San Francisco Bay’s maritime weather is Plant Recommendations West of the East Bay Hills.
  • Buy seeds.
  • Plant bare root fruit and shade trees, roses, shrubs and vines. For information on fruit tree varieties, check out UC Davis’ Home Orchard site.
  • Plant bare root artichokes, asparagus, blackberries, grapes, raspberries, rhubarb and strawberries.
  • Start seeds (indoors) of cool season leafy vegetables (lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, etc), Brassica family crops (broccoli, spring cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) and leeks.
  • Prune dormant deciduous plants such as flowering vines, fruit and shade trees, grapes, roses and hydrangeas.
  • Prune salvias, penstemons, butterfly bush, California fuchsia and other summer-blooming perennial shrubs.



  • Plant root crops in garden (carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, potatoes, etc.).
  • Plant peas.
  • Start seeds (indoors) of warm season crops requiring less than 4 weeks of growth before setting out.  These include cucumbers and squash.
  • Set out cool season crops and cool season flowers (pansies, nemesia, primrose, etc.).
  • Prepare soil by digging in cover crops and incorporating “hot” manures (this can be done earlier).
  • Do a test run on irrigation system and complete needed repairs.