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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 22

Rose pruning can begin now, but be sure to discard old canes and leaves to prevent the spread of fungal disease. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Winter starts soggy and very busy

Welcome to winter! Rainy weather and holiday celebrations will pretty much keep a lot of gardeners indoors this week.

On the other hand. a little vigorous exercise outside can be refreshing. Keep it simple and tackle chores that really need to be done:

* Pay attention to where rainwater collects. Make a note to address muddy spots (or turn them into rain gardens). Redirect water away from the house or other structures.
* Dump out water that collected in or under potted plants. Remove any saucers.
* Start pruning roses. Strip remaining foliage and reduce the bush by about half. Discard old canes and leaves to prevent spread of fungal disease.
* Rake, rake, rake. Remove leaves from hardscape (when wet, they make sidewalks slippery). Keep drains leaf-free.
* Use disease-free fallen leaves for compost or mulch.
* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location indoors. Water thoroughly, but make sure the plant has drainage: Poke holes in the foil wrapper. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.
* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.
* It's bare-root season, but don't plant in soggy soil. If you can't get the plant in the ground right away, refresh roots by soaking overnight in water.


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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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