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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 6

Use bypass pruners for pruning roses.
Always a good idea to sharpen them
beforehand. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Work around storms during rainy early January

January's first weekend is wet. And that's normal; January typically is Sacramento's rainy month.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect two big doses of deep-soaking rain, maybe three, in the next four days. About a half inch was expected Saturday, followed by another half inch Sunday night. More rain is forecast for Wednesday.

In addition, strong gusts of wind -- up to 43 mph -- are forecast for Sacramento through Monday. That combination of wet ground and gusty wind can be dangerous. Keep an eye out for toppling trees and shrubs, especially new transplants. Evergreens may drop branches.

The forecast starting Thursday calls for sunny skies and highs nudging 60. Wait until then for most outdoor chores. In between storms or when the sun comes out, here's what should be on your garden to-do list:

* Turn off the sprinklers for another week.
* Browse the new seed catalogs and start making plans for spring and summer.
* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.
* Prune deciduous fruit trees, except apricots and cherries. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.
* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.
* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.
These navels can be harvested now. But you can "store" them
on the tree for the time being. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
* Harvest citrus as it ripens. Navel oranges, lemons and mandarins are ready now.
* Add some instant color. Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.
* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.
* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.
* Plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

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

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

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

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

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

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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