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Sacramento residents get more Claw time

Leaf season and street pick-up extended through Feb. 6

The Claw green waste collection machine
The Claw will be performing street pick-ups later into the year, the City of Sacramento decided. (Photo courtesy city of Sacramento)

Sacramento’s leaf season is lasting longer this new year.

Instead of its original Jan. 23 cutoff date, the City of Sacramento extended its in-street pick-up of garden waste and Christmas trees two weeks. The last date to put green waste curbside is now Feb. 6.

A quirky Sacramento tradition, in-street pick-up is limited to November through January. But city crews that operate The Claw – the articulated tractor used to scoop up the piles – have been running way behind schedule. Due to staffing shortages, Sacramento has been operating only five Claw crews; in past years, they’ve had eight.

Heavy storms in October and December further complicated pick-ups. Meanwhile, piles in some leafy neighborhoods continued to grow and grow. Both the Sacramento Bee and local TV stations reported this week about delays. The City of Sacramento already had extended its leaf season schedule to attempt to catch up.

Usually, The Claw visits residential streets seven times during leaf season, with pick-ups spaced about two weeks apart. Residents can get an estimate of when The Claw will arrive on their street using the Leaf Season collection calendar. Find the link at S acLeafSmart.org .

Some reminders:

* When recycling Christmas trees, trees should be clean of all lights, tinsel, tree stands, nails and decorations. Flocked trees will be accepted.

* Leaf piles can be no bigger than 4 by 4 by 9 feet (and just one per household). Make sure there is space between the pile and the curb so water can flow down the gutter. Also, place the pile at least 6 feet away from cars, boats, basketball hoops or other obstructions. The Claw needs room to maneuver.

* Don’t put plastic bags in street piles (including bags full of leaves). And don’t contaminate the leaf pile with trash or dog poop (a common problem).

* During leaf season, the City of Sacramento continues to pick up green waste containers. Fill those first before piling leaves in the street, advises the recycling and solid waste department. The containers will get picked up 13 times during Leaf Season while residents can expect seven visits from The Claw.

For more information: SacLeafSmart.org .

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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