This is the month for pruning and for reading seed catalogs—armchair gardening. My current favorite catalog is The Natural Gardening Company‘s comparatively thin but well-curated missive from Petaluma, California (it’s local for me, that’s part of why I love it). I also subscribe to Johnny’s Selected Seeds because my dad always did, and Seeds of Change because it’s gorgeous and it’s a powerful good idea.
But really what I want to recommend is that you buy a book about your local gardening, and for Northern California I love Katherine Grace Endicott’s Northern California Gardening; a month-by-month guide. Whenever I look out my window and I’m not sure of what I should be doing next (and I can’t remember which chores Sara Winge, my gardening mentor, would give me this time of year) I turn here. This is where I first learned of bare root plants and I love the idea so much I think about it all year. Winter is when plants are dug up that are dormant and they are sold without soil—they’re easier to handle and therefore less expensive. Think of apples, pears, roses, vines, shade trees, berries, rhubarb, artichokes! And if you plant them now they will be in a good position to make the most of the slowly shifting temperatures and transition strongly toward big bushy joyous bounty come spring and summer.