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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 2

Make the most of dry days; it's time to prune!

Ripening kumquats
Kumquats are the most cold-hardy citrus. This Nagami kumquat tree only needs protection below 24 degrees, according to Four Winds Growers. Limes and lemons,  by contrast, should be protected below 32 degrees; harvest ripe fruit before it's damaged. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)



Happy New Year and, water-wise, we have reasons to celebrate.

According to the National Weather Service, California has received more rain and snow – 33.9 trillion gallons total – since Oct. 1 than we did all of the 2020-21 water year.

The Sierra snowpack is healthy, too. On Saturday, the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab reported a record December snowfall: 214 inches.

Sacramento starts the new year cold and frosty. Widespread frost is predicted Saturday and Sunday nights; take precautions to protect tender plants. Pick ripe citrus.

Possible rain could materialize again Tuesday and Friday, says the weather service. Otherwise, days will be in the low 50s and overnight lows around 40 – otherwise pretty normal for January. This month averages highs of 54 degrees and lows of 39.

What should be on your New Year to-do list?

* 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. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

rose bud
This Barbra Streisand rose has pushed out a new bud despite the
cold. The plant nevertheless needs to be pruned, and all remaining
leaves stripped off.


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

* 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 soon after a rain 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.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* 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.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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