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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 29

Frosty mornings serve as reminder: Are your plants protected?

PVC hoops can be used to help protect tender plants from
frost. Before sundown, the frost cloth can be pulled up and
over the hoops without damaging the plant.
(Photo courtesy UCCE Sacramento County master gardeners)

Frost is in the air -- and that can mean trouble for tender plants.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will flirt with freezing temperatures all week with overnight lows dipping into the low 30s.

Time to haul out the frost blankets and other protective coverings. Put covers in place before sundown to keep in as much warmth as possible. Remember to remove frost protection in the morning -- it can cook plants during sunny days.

(For more frost protection tips, see this
from the UCCE Sacramento County master gardeners.)

And that's what's expected almost all week. November ends and December starts with mostly clear skies and high temperatures in the low to mid 60s.

The last days of November stay dry, which is not good news for water watchers. On average, Sacramento receives a total of 3 inches of rain in October and November combined, the first two months of our water year. So far we've had scant precipitation.

What's in store in December? Historically, Sacramento averages highs of 54 degrees and lows of 38 -- with 3.25 inches of rain. Don't expect any heat waves. The warmest Sacramento December day on record: 76 degrees.

Although days will get off to a chilly start, it's still prime gardening weather with plenty to do:
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.
* To help prevent leaf curl, apply a copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees after they lose their leaves.
* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.
* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses. Keep poinsettias indoors.
* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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