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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 14

Foggy conditions keep air and soil moist, but temperatures warm

Poppy seedling
California poppy seedlings already are making an appearance, but there's still
time to plant seeds for them and other wildflowers. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Mornings will feel damp this week, but no rain is in the forecast. Instead, fog has settled into the Sacramento Valley, keeping the conditions humid and the soil moist.

That fog also acts like a blanket, keeping overall temperatures higher. When the fog finally lifts, afternoon highs are expected to hover around 70 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, with overnight lows about 50. Normal for November in Sacramento: Highs of 64 and lows of 43 degrees.

This rosebud is OK so far with all
the moisture in the air now, but is
susceptible to fungal disease. Keep
an eye on roses and dahlias,
especially, as the dampness continues.

All that moisture can prompt outbreaks of fungal disease such as botrytis or gray mold. Instead of opening, flower buds turn to mush. This is particularly a problem on roses and dahlias. Snip those funky plops off the plant and discard to help prevent the fungi from infecting more flowers.

Meanwhile, concentrate on cleanup this week:

* 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.

* Use some of your good fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and trees.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant. Prune dead and broken branches first, then shape as desired.

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

* 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.

* Now is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Keep planting bulbs to spread out your spring bloom. Some possible suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, tulips, anemones and scillas.

* Seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant sweet pea, sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons and other spring bloomers.

* Plant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale and other winter veggies.

* Plant garlic and onions.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

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

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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