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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 15


Christmas camellias are now in full bloom. Pick some for a winter bouquet. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Make the most of soft soil on dry days



What drought? Recent rain has refreshed our gardens and our water reserves.

After speculation in November that we were heading for a dry winter, the storms washed away any mention of the “D” word.

According to the
National Weather Service , Sacramento has received more than 3.55 inches so far in December. That increased our seasonal total since Oct. 1 to 4.26 inches – normal for this time period.

By comparison, last season to date was 3.14 inches.

Make the most of soft soil during dry days to get things done:

* Pick a winter bouquet to enjoy indoors. Christmas camellias are enjoying this weather and are now in full bloom.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant cool-season annuals such as calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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