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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 12

January is the best time to look for bare-root roses, above, as well as fruit trees, grapevines and berry bushes. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Bare-root season in full swing

Take advantage of soft ground; consider planting a fruit tree – or bush.

Ever wanted to grow grapes? Find many varieties at nurseries now.
Many of our orchard favorites can be transplanted now. So can vine fruit such as grapes or kiwi. January is prime bare-root season for roses, too.

Weather-wise, moist conditions continue – which is great for planting dormant shrubs, trees and perennials.

Add fruit and spring flowers to your garden – even an ornamental landscape. Consider apricot, apple, fig, nectarine, peach, pear, persimmon, plum and quince. Their spring flowers add beauty and fragrance to the garden – and help the bees, too. The actual fruit is a bonus.

Also plant bare-root berries, artichokes, asparagus, horseradish and rhubarb.

Baldo Villegas talks about pruning techniques during
the hands-on portion of the Sierra Foothills Rose Society’s
workshop Saturday. Note that the leaves are all stripped
off the pruned
roses in front of him.
One caution: Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants. Make sure the transplants will have good drainage.

Before transplanting, re-hydrate bare-root plants; in a bucket or wheelbarrow, soak roots for several hours or overnight.

If you buy or receive a bare-root plant and can’t get it into the ground for a few days, put it in a bucket of water, too. But don’t leave it there too long. If the delay will be more than a couple of days, transfer the bare-roots back to damp sawdust, peat or potting soil in a plastic pot.

Other garden tasks to tackle when it’s not raining:

* 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. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

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

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* 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 callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.


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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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