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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 29

Be sure to strip any remaining leaves off roses when you prune them, then
clean up leaves and debris underneath. Fresh mulch is a good idea, too. Then
Lady Hamilton rose will be all ready for spring growth. (Photo: Debbie

Soft ground makes for easy transplanting

Enjoy the winter sun while you can. This has been a rainy December in Sacramento, which is a good thing. It's replenishing our gardens' reserves.

So far, this month's rain totals (4.54 inches) are 60 percent more than last December, with more on the way. But after Sunday's storms, we're expected to get a string of bright, sunny (and chilly) days. The ground is soft, which makes for easy transplanting. Take advantage of it.

This is a great time to plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs -- even if it's still rainy. If the weather stays wet and your ground seems saturated, consider planting your garden additions in large black plastic pots. This method really gets roses off to a fast start.

The black plastic warms up faster than the ground soil and gives roots a healthy boost. Then, transplant the new addition (rootball and all) into the ground in April as the weather turns to spring.

Elsewhere in the garden during these last days of 2019 and the first of a new decade:

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.
* 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. This also cuts down on fungal disease.
* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.
* Enjoy sunny winter days by planting for spring. 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 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 Oct. 1:

Make the most of this cooler weather. Get to work on your fall garden:

* October is the best month to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Plants become established – sending down deep, strong roots – faster in warm soil.

* Divide and replant perennials. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to the planting hole, 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 gladioli, 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.

* Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.

* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.

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