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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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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