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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 20


The Claw's pickup season ends Jan. 27. (Photo courtesy City of Sacramento)

Get pruning done before The Claw is gone



Prune, prune, prune; that's what tops Sacramento's garden to-do list -- especially if you want to make use of The Claw.

For street pickup, limbs should be cut to under 3 feet long and should be no more than 4 inches in diameter. Piles should not exceed 4 by 4 by 9 feet (that's about five cubic yards). No plastic bags.

Got too much pruning? Residents can still call for special pickup as well as fill up their weekly green waste containers.

Although more rain is forecast Sunday, Jan. 20, the rest of the week is predicted to be dry, according to the National Weather Service. Thanks to more than 4 inches of rain this month, Sacramento's seasonal rain total is up to 8.92 inches, a half inch more than average.

Moist soil makes for easier digging. Need some ideas?

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs. If the weather is wet and your ground seems saturated, consider planting your garden additions in large black plastic pots. The black plastic will warm up faster than the ground soil and give roots a healthy start. Then, transplant the new addition (rootball and all) into the ground in April as the weather warms.
* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.
* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.
* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.
* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials, then replant.
* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.
* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head and leaf lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.
*Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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