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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 30

More dry weather creates winter planting window

Strawberry plants
Not only is it the right time to plant new roots of artichoke, horseradish, strawberry and rhubarb, it's also perfect to clean up and replant older strawberry plants, as above. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

How dry we are! Our rainless weather pattern continues.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento has a 0% chance of rain between now and next weekend. January, usually one of our wettest months, will end with only 0.05 inches of precipitation – 3.6 inches below normal.

February also is tracking on the dry side. A “normal” February in Sacramento averages nearly 3.6 inches, too.

Right now, the only moisture in the forecast is patchy morning ground fog. That fog will keep temperatures cool, with afternoon highs around 60 degrees and overnight lows in the high 30s.

While we sure could use the rain, make good use of this pleasant winter weather:

* Finish winter pruning. That includes roses and most dormant trees or shrubs.

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Plant bare-root roses, berries and fruit trees.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers plus artichoke, horseradish, strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant seed potatoes and onion sets (small bulbs).

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 27

Before the rain comes later in the week, take advantage of sunny, calm days:

* This may be your last chance this season for the first application of copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees. Leaf curl, which shows up in the spring, is caused by a fungus that winters as spores on the limbs and around the tree in fallen leaves. Sprays are most effective now, but they need a few days of dry weather after application to really “stick.” If you haven’t yet, spray now.

* Rake and compost leaves, but dispose of any diseased plant material. For example, if peach and nectarine trees showed signs of leaf curl this year, clean up under trees and dispose of those leaves instead of composting.

* Make sure storm drains are clear of any debris.

* Give your azaleas, gardenias and camellias a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim chrysanthemums to 6 to 8 inches above the ground after they’re done blooming. Keep potted mums in their containers until next spring. Then, they can be planted in the ground, if desired, or repotted.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant.

* Plant bulbs for spring bloom. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Other suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas.

* Seed wildflowers including California poppies.

* Also from seed, plant sweet pea, sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons and other spring flowers.

* Plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from winter rains.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cool-season greens can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* If you decide to use a living Christmas tree this year, keep it outside in a sunny location until Christmas week. This reduces stress on the young tree.

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