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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 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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