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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of Jan. 5


Grapevines can be pruned between now and March 1. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

This weather is normal; make the most of it



Welcome to a typical January in Sacramento! It may seem cold and damp, but this is actually average weather for us.

Our January high temperatures average 54 degrees with lows dipping down just enough under 40 to average 39. Normal January weather also tends to be wet with 3.6 inches of rain.

January also can be the coldest month of the year in Sacramento gardens with our greatest chance of frost. Be prepared!

Make the most of soft ground. This is a great time to transplant dormant shrubs or perennials. In local nurseries, it’s bare-root season with their best selection of roses and fruit trees.

What should be on your to-do list?

* Prune, prune, prune. Then, prune some more. Tackle roses, grapevines and deciduous trees.

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

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees soon after a rain to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

Fight leaf curl in peach and nectarine trees by spraying with copper-based oil.
Be sure to remove any leaves and, as above, any "mummies" -- fruit that didn't
develop.
* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl.

* When forced bulbs sprout, move them to a cool, bright window. Give them a quarter turn each day so the stems will grow straight.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, 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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