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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 April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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