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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 19

Plan for more wet weather during first week of winter

Succulents and fleshy-stemmed perennials are
susceptible to frost damage. Move them to
protected areas or cover them when temperatures
drop near freezing. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Damp: That’s the best way to describe this week in Sacramento. We start out foggy, then get more rain. But when that precipitation arrives and how much are still to be seen.

The Sacramento office of the National Weather Service says to expect “unsettled weather forecast across interior (Northern California) for the next week. Through Monday, expect cold temps and valley fog in the overnight and morning hours. Monday night possibly through next weekend will see widespread chances for rain and mountain snow. Plan for holiday travel delays!”

Right now, there’s a 65% chance of a rainy Christmas Eve. Overall, Sacramento could get 1 to 2 inches of rain this week if the storm front stays on its current course.

In addition, the weather service says to expect frost Sunday night and early Monday morning with overnight temperatures in the low 30s. The fog will keep daytime highs in the 40s, well below our normal of 54 degrees. Later in the week, storm clouds will keep nights warmer (above 40 degrees) but days will stay cold. Plan accordingly.

* Although the calendar says it’s time, don’t spray peach and nectarine trees during these damp conditions. Wait until we have a 72-hour window of dry weather.

* Poinsettias don’t like frost or rain; bring porch plants indoors. Inside or out, keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Tuesday is the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year – a great time to plant garlic and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

* Mulch, water and cover tender plants to protect them during threat of frost. Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.


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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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