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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 21

Sunny, cool days make for good fall gardening weather

Red and gold leaves
A persimmon tree shows off its fall colors. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Sunny days and clear nights; that’s the Thanksgiving week forecast for Sacramento. After so many foggy days, expect several bright, crisp mornings and near-perfect fall afternoons – all great for gardening or other outdoor activities.

According to the National Weather Service, afternoon highs will be right about normal – in the low 60s. Without cloud cover, overnight lows will feel downright chilly, dipping down to 40 degrees on several nights.

This change in temperature will have an effect on our landscapes. Any deciduous trees that were holding onto their foliage will start dropping leaves in droves. Cold-sensitive plants such as begonias or tomatoes will shut down and die back.

Get ready for the holidays ahead with some seasonal TLC:

* Rake and compost leaves, but dispose of any diseased plant material.

* To help prevent leaf curl, apply a copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees after they lose their leaves this month. 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 to work, they need several days of clear, dry weather – like this week.

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

Mum
Trim chrysanthemums back after they're finished blooming.
* After they bloom, chrysanthemums should be trimmed to 6 to 8 inches above the ground. If in pots, keep the 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 spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, tulips, anemones and scillas.

* Seed California wildflowers such as poppies, penstemon and lupine.

* Plant sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Trees and shrubs still can be planted now. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

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

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Harvest persimmons and pomegranates.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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