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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 April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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