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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 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

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

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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