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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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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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