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Be prepared for soggy Christmas week

Succulents and other sensitive plants need storm protection

Green lacy leaves with water droplets
Pelargoniums, such as these scented geraniums, are among the types of plants
that are vulnerable to cold rains. Begonias, succulents and true geraniums are others. Protect or move them before the storm hits. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Santa is going to get soggy. So are your succulents.

Whoever asked for rain this Christmas is getting their wish fulfilled early. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento is going to get a lot of moisture this week. Starting Tuesday, precipitation is in the forecast for seven consecutive days. Coincidentally, Tuesday is also the first day of winter.

These storms will start out easy, with hit or miss rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. The weather service estimates Sacramento will receive ½ to 1 inch total for those two days.

But Thursday through Saturday, Christmas Day, should see heavier rain with another 2 inches in the forecast. In addition, daytime temperatures are going to be chilly – mostly in the 40s. That’s well below this week’s average high of 56 degrees.

Prepare for these rainy days ahead:

* Clear any debris such as fallen leaves and twigs from storm drains and rain gutters.

* Watch out for spots where water may pool around your home – especially the foundation. Add extensions to downspouts so water is directed away from the house.

* Succulents can’t take a lot of cold water, and this rain will feel frigid. Cold or warm, too much rain and succulents will rot. Move potted plants to protected spots under eaves or on a covered patio.

* The same advice goes for begonias and geraniums/pelargoniums. If possible, give them some protection from these cold and soggy conditions.

* Remove any saucers under pots. Otherwise, roots may rot from standing in water.

* Protect holiday plants such as poinsettias and cyclamens. Although they need to be kept watered, they'll prefer a dry and bright spot indoors to the wet and cold outside.

Wet mulch and soil
Soggy soil is bad for planting. Don't walk on it, either.
* Don’t plant in soggy ground. Your new transplants – even bare-root roses – may rot.

* Avoid walking on very wet soil. It will compact, squeezing out its vital air pockets.

* Make a note of where water naturally flows in your landscape. You may want to create a rain garden and capture water from future storms.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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