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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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