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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 13

Welcome rain finally arrives; more to come

Red bucket with rainwater
Check around the garden for any accumulated rainwater in forgotten buckets (ahem) or saucers under container plants, and dump it out. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Much-needed rain finally arrived Friday, breaking Sacramento’s long dry spell.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento received
.41 inches in this first wave of weekend storms. It was the first measurable precipitation of the current rain year, which began Oct. 1.

In a normal rain year, we should have received more than 3 inches by now.

The chance of rain Sunday? “Definite,” according to the weather service, with another half inch anticipated.

After that storm, the rest of the week will remain cool and cloudy, with highs in the upper 50s. Due to the cloud cover, overnight lows will feel almost balmy in the mid 40s. Another chance of showers arrives late Wednesday night and Thursday, but otherwise we’ll have mostly dry days.

Take advantage of that moist soil and get to work!

* Turn off the sprinklers. Nature already gave the lawn a good soaking.

* Just because it rained doesn’t mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Rake leaves. Make sure storm drains are clear.

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

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

* It’s not to late to plant spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Remember to plant any that may have been chilling in the refrigerator.

* Transplant seedlings for bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard and spinach.

* From seed, plant fava beans, chard, leaf lettuce, mustard, radishes and spinach.

* Plant garlic and onion sets.

* Plant pansies, snapdragons, stocks, Icelandic poppies, calendulas and other favorites for winter and spring color.

* Transplant herbs including most of the mint family (such as catmint and oregano), cilantro, rosemary, fennel and scented geraniums.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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