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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 17

Windy, dry conditions bring possible danger

Azaleas
A lightly shaded spot with an eastern exposure is a good location for a blooming
azaleas. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)






Watch out for falling branches – and stray sparks!

According to the National Weather Service, windy and dry conditions may bring danger to Northern California. A high wind watch is in effect Sunday evening through 11 p.m. Tuesday, with north to east winds of 25 to 35 mph blowing through the Valley. Gusts of 40 to 50 mph could bring down tree limbs and power lines. Be ready for power outages, too.

Coupled with unusually dry and warm weather, those high winds increase fire danger, too. Be careful using power machinery outdoors. Do not park vehicles or mowers on dry grass.

No rain is in sight. Although dormant plants don’t need much, make sure your garden gets irrigated – especially your vegetable garden and new transplants.

On the plus side, temperatures will continue above average; instead of the typical 53-degree highs for mid-January, Sacramento will be 10 to 15 degrees warmer each day. Overnight lows will stay above freezing, too.

Make the most of these warm, clear winter days:

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

* Spray a copper-based oil on peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Finish pruning roses, deciduous trees and shrubs before buds break.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

Primroses and polyanthas
Primroses and polyanthas bring bright spots of color to
the winter garden.

* 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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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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