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Winterizing your yard and garden

Winter is coming to the Central Valley, and along with it some promised rain, cold and probable frosts to yards of the 209. Gardeners need to know what to do to nurture and protect what is growing in their plots of ground.

With the prediction of El Niño, welcome rain is expected, said Elena Welch, owner of Westurf Nursery at 1612 Claus Road in Modesto. She has some advice for home gardeners to help make it through the winter season.

For our green and growing yards, it’s time to plant, to prune and to protect from frost.

Welch said it’s a great time for planting tulips and daffodils because they like the chill of winter. It is the perfect time for onion sets, garlic and Brussels sprouts. Put in your spring flowering bulbs, too, she said, to perk up the yard when springtime comes. Unlike the rest of us, they really like the cold.

She said vegetables do well with a little watering. Last year, she said she had to water hers from time to time. But, “with enough rain, they’re fine on their own and don’t need a lot of attention.”

Welsh said that backyard trees need frost protection coverings.

“What’s really pretty to do is to put some white Christmas lights on the trees. That little bit of warmth will keep the frost off the leaves,” she explained.

Citrus trees, like lemon and orange and avocado trees, all need to be protected from frost and covered.

“They do best in Southern California,” she noted, adding that when “we plant them here ... they’ll need to have some frost protection.”

For little trees, there are frost protection coverings.

A big avocado (tree) will probably do OK if it’s established, she added.

“If it’s a young tree, it will need protection. Right now is a great time for planting anything, but especially trees,” she said.

Many trees are losing their leaves, but the roots can get established and the tree will be ready to grow by spring.

Bougainvillea is another plant that does really well in sunny Southern California, she said. Everybody loves it, there’s a lot of color, but in the Central Valley it really needs to be protected from frost, either with lights on it or covered with fabric. Burlap works well for covering plants, too.

She said big rolls of insulate are available as a frost cover for the trees, to keep them “warm and toasty,” but a simple garbage bag can be used for the smaller trees and plants.

“They’re nice because they have little drawstrings at the bottom,” Welch pointed out.

It’s important to remember to take the coverings off though during the day, though, she said. It lets the plants get some sunlight if it’s a sunny day.

Do the same with any houseplants that are outside.

“Succulents and similar plants in pots might freeze if they can’t be moved under a patio cover or into the garage, they need to be covered, too,” Welch advised. “But make sure you water them. Especially plants in pots, they’ll still need water.”

For more gardening advice, contact Westurf Nursery at 209-576-1111.