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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 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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