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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 7

Damp soil makes for easier planting

Camellia leaves and buds
Camellias and azaleas can be fertilized now.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)


November started out cool and damp – and will stay that way at least another week.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect more showers Tuesday with up to another half inch of rain on the way. The rest of the week, cloud cover will keep daytime temperatures in the low to mid 60s. That same blanket of clouds will keep overnight lows relatively warm in the 50s.

After so much drought, it can be hard to remember: Is this normal? Average highs and lows for November are 64 and 43 degrees, respectively, says the weather service. November usually is one of Sacramento’s rainiest months, averaging more than 2 inches of precipitation.

Make the most of that damp soil and warm nights: Plant something!

* Now is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs in the Sacramento area. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains. (And they love that warm soil.)

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

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

* Plant garlic and onions.

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

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

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

* 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.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant.

* Fertilize camellias and azaleas.

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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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