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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 13

Some patio plants may need more moisture;
others caught enough rain.
(Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Work around storms; plan for spring

Rain dictates our garden activity this week as Sacramento continues to get a good January soaking.

According to the
National Weather Service , Sacramento Executive Airport has received 1.64 inches so far this month, slightly ahead of normal (1.28) for that 12-day period. That brings us up to 6.52 inches for the rain season, which started Oct. 1. That’s still an inch below average, but closing the gap.

More storms are forecast Monday through Thursday, so take advantage of this weekend’s break in the weather for any outdoor tasks:

* Where is rain water flowing? Make sure it doesn’t accumulate near foundations. Direct rain to flow away from structures. Are low spots draining?

* Clear out any debris that may have clogged storm drains, gutters or downspouts.

* Dump water that may have accumulated in saucers under potted plants or in pots themselves. Containers can become over-saturated, drowning roots.

* Not everything got watered by rain. Check plants under eaves, on patios or under large evergreens. They may still need a drink.

* Jot some notes on your garden calendar. How much rain did your garden get? Consider getting a rain gauge.

* Prune, prune prune. Tackle roses now.

* All this moisture has weeds sprouting. Whack them while they’re young.

* Plant bare-root roses, fruit trees, ornamental shrubs and berries.

* Compile a list of what to grow this spring and summer.

* Inventory your leftover seed packets. Most seeds remain viable two to three years after their suggested planting date. Many stay viable much longer.

* Browse seed catalogs or seed company websites; order early for best selection.

* Start tomato and pepper seeds indoors.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

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

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. 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.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

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

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