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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* 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.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* 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. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* 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.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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