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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 Nov. 27

Before the rain comes later in the week, take advantage of sunny, calm days:

* This may be your last chance this season for the first application of copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees. Leaf curl, which shows up in the spring, is caused by a fungus that winters as spores on the limbs and around the tree in fallen leaves. Sprays are most effective now, but they need a few days of dry weather after application to really “stick.” If you haven’t yet, spray now.

* Rake and compost leaves, but dispose of any diseased plant material. For example, if peach and nectarine trees showed signs of leaf curl this year, clean up under trees and dispose of those leaves instead of composting.

* Make sure storm drains are clear of any debris.

* Give your azaleas, gardenias and camellias a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim chrysanthemums to 6 to 8 inches above the ground after they’re done blooming. Keep potted mums in their containers until next spring. Then, they can be planted in the ground, if desired, or repotted.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant.

* Plant bulbs for spring bloom. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Other suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas.

* Seed wildflowers including California poppies.

* Also from seed, plant sweet pea, sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons and other spring flowers.

* Plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from winter rains.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cool-season greens can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* If you decide to use a living Christmas tree this year, keep it outside in a sunny location until Christmas week. This reduces stress on the young tree.

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