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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 April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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