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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 Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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