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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 20

Expect to see changes in your garden as winter officially begins

Pruning shears cutting a rose cane
Even if they're still trying to bloom, start pruning your roses now. Strip off
any remaining leaves, too. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Foggy nights and chilly mornings; welcome to winter in Sacramento!

A new season starts Monday with a crisp, cool forecast now through Christmas. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will see afternoon highs hovering around 59 degrees and overnight lows dipping to almost freezing but not quite.

With ground still damp from recent rain, that combination creates perfect conditions for fog, which will settle into the valley for the next few nights. All that moisture will speed up fungal diseases such as botrytis.

Expect to see sudden changes in your garden. Although many deciduous plants have been holding onto their foliage and acting like it’s still October instead of almost January, they’ll stop dropping leaves in bunches now and quickly slip into dormancy.

Make the most of this pre-Christmas week. Work off some calories and show your garden some TLC.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. It’s easier to see their structure without their leaves.

* Start pruning 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 and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* The first day of winter is the shortest day of the year – a great time to plant garlic and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season has begun. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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