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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 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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