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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 27

Enjoy sunny breaks in between showers and fog

Dormant peach tree
This little peach tree has dropped all its leaves. It's the ideal time to spray the tree to prevent peach leaf curl, plus prune it if needed. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)




Fog, showers and occasional sun; weather-wise, the final days of 2020 will be a mixed bag for Sacramento.

After a healthy soaking on Christmas night, more rain is in the forecast for Sunday night, Monday and Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. In between, expect mostly patchy ground fog and cloudy skies. The sun will break through Tuesday and Friday, New Year's Day.

Temperature wise, afternoons will mostly be in the low to mid 50s with overnight lows in the 30s (but not quite freezing).

Make the most of those sunny afternoons. There's plenty to do in the winter garden:

* 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 Japonica
camellias .
* It's also the time to prune most fruit trees. (The exceptions are citrus and apricots.) 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.
* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees soon after a rain 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.
* 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 July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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