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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 5

Some much-needed rain may be coming soon

Red poinsettias
Poinsettias prefer warm, sunny spots. Don't forget to water them thoroughly after you bring them home and regularly afterwards. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

“Keep your umbrellas handy” – how long has it been since you read that phrase?

But that’s the advice ahead of what could (finally) be a soggy week in Sacramento.

According to the National Weather Service, expect “unsettled weather next week,” starting with light showers in northern California on Monday and Tuesday. Sacramento will see a better chance of widespread rain Thursday and Friday. Late week mountain snow is possible.

But the weather service added this disclaimer: “Medium forecast confidence.”

Similar weather systems have flirted with Northern California this season only to bend north. Drenched by atmospheric rivers, Seattle recorded its wettest November in history with some suburbs recording more than 14 inches.

Meanwhile, California has been extremely dry. Los Angeles saw its first rainless November in more than 30 years. Sacramento’s November rain total (0.72 inches) was about 40% of average.

What’s average for December? Historically, 3.25 inches.

Rain or no rain, patchy ground fog will continue, says the weather service. That will keep high temperatures just about normal for early December: 58 to 62 degrees. Overnight lows will stay relatively warm in the mid 40s.

Make the most of dry days in your garden:

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Remember to water, especially seedlings, new transplants and potted plants.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs. Get the tulips out of the refrigerator.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root roses, berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* 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.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* 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. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* 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.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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