The middle of January is a good time to do a little maintenance on your garden, even if you’re not actively growing crops. Think of it this way: if you get a head start now, you’ll have less work to do in the spring and summer. Here’s a list to follow:

1) Weed your garden. Winter weeding is one of the best things you can do to ensure a successful yield in the summer. Most weeds sprout up in the winter, germinate in the spring and summer, set seed in the fall, and die when cold weather hits. If you can pull the weeds (or inhibit their access to sinlight) in the winter, then you have limited their chances of reseeding. Also, the longer a weed sits in the ground, the more time it has to establish roots, making it more difficult to extract. The moral of this story: pull weeds early and often.

2) Turn your compost. We all took our plant clippings, vegetable trimmings, and leaves and threw them into our compost bins at the end of the summer, but most of us probably forgot to turn our compost bins. If material has been in your bin since August or September, chances are it has already started decomposing. Give it a good turn and give those microdigesters some oxygen so you can have plenty of compost in the spring.

3) Prepare your gardening tools. If you’re like me, you probably left a couple of tools outside and they’ve turned a nice shade of rust by now. Pick up your tools, clean them off (you can use a brilo pad or sand paper to scratch away at rust), and organize your tools. You might even want to get a head start and see if your local garden supply store has plant food that you can stock up on.

4) Stock up on seeds and trays. One of the many benefits of living in California is the immense amount of sunlight and good weather. So Cal gardeners can start a seed tray as early as January and be ready to plant by mid-March. Just remember to keep your seedlings inside by a window so they can be shielded from any unexpected weather. Also, if your local garden supply store doesn’t have seeds yet, you can also go online and order them.

5) Prepare and repair. If you garden in pots, now is a good time to get rid of your old soil and give the inside of your pot a good scrubbing. Cleaning the inside of a garden pot is suggested so you can kill any mold or bacteria living on the walls of the vessel. Or if you garden in plant boxes, make sure boxes are in good condition. Finally, if you prefer in-ground planting, add soil additives like lime or clay conditioner today.

Good luck with your gardens!