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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 Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

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

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

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

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* 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 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. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* 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.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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