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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 ā€œDā€ 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 ā€“ 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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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