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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 12

Very wet week could create soggy conditions

Pot saucer with water
Rain will create pooling of water in container saucers,
so be sure to remove the saucers before the storm hits.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Expect to get wet. After fretting over lack of winter rain, Sacramento will soak up what could be a month’s worth of precipitation between now and Tuesday night.

Estimates by the National Weather Service show 3 to 4 inches expected in Sacramento, 5 to 7.5 inches in Grass Valley. Most of the rain will be slow and steady as part of an atmospheric river.

“The main impacts from this moderate to heavy rain will be ponding on roadways and minor flooding in areas of poor drainage,” tweeted the weather service’s Sacramento office on Saturday morning.

More rain could follow on Wednesday and Thursday until the sun finally breaks through Friday, says the weather service.

Historically, December averages 3.5 inches of rain in Sacramento. Accompanied by heavy snow in the Sierra, this pre-Christmas deluge likely will get our water year back on track and alleviate some drought fears.

Such prolonged rain also will create soggy conditions in the garden. Hold off on transplanting bare-root roses, trees and berries until the soil has a chance to dry out.

* Protect potted poinsettias from cold and wet; they prefer it dry with temperatures in the high 60s, just like most people. Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants with a low-dose fertilizer monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Make sure to poke holes in any foil wrapping around gift plants to allow drainage.

* Remove saucers under outdoor potted plants to avoid pooling of water and potential rot.

* Avoid walking on soggy soil; it compacts the soil – bad for roots and microorganisms.

* Keep gutters clear so storm water doesn’t pool or flood.

* Keep an eye on big trees, especially evergreens. Their foliage soaks up rain and puts a lot of extra weight on limbs. Redwoods in particular may become unstable due to root loss during drought. If a tree starts leaning, call an arborist.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees.

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


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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