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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 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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