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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 3

Expect damp conditions to stick around



wet rose bush
It's January and it's wet out, but use the dry days in between showers to tidy up
the winter garden. It's time to prune those roses, too. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)




Chilly and often damp; that’s typical for January in Sacramento – and exactly how this new month and new year begins.

According to the National Weather Service, our 2021 starts out wet. Besides weekend showers, more (and heavier) rain is expected Monday, totaling up to a quarter inch. Showers also are in the forecast Wednesday and Friday.

Meanwhile, temperatures will stay on the cool side, cresting in the mid 50s each afternoon but staying above freezing overnight. And that’s normal for Sacramento; January averages highs of 54 degrees and lows of 39. Rain is normal for this month, too, with more than 3.6 inches falling, on average.

Make the most of soft ground and breaks in between storms to take care of some January chores:

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

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

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

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

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* 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.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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