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Happy New Year! Now, write this down

For its customers, Davey Tree created this 2019 calendar of big trees, with handy big spaces for making notes. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Calendar an important tool for garden success

Happy new year and new month!

January in Sacramento is usually a lot like December; both months average high temperatures of 54 degrees. January nights are slightly warmer; averaging 39 degrees, one more than December.

January usually is Sacramento's rainiest month, averaging more than 3.6 inches. It rarely gets hot; Sacramento's December record is 75 degrees. But it can get cold; this is our frostiest month, too.

But what will it be like in 2019?

Here's a page from Kathy Morrison's 2018 calendar: March temperatures in Carmichael
got down to 33 degrees, but shot up to 84 by the end of the month. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
Keeping track of variations in weather and other factors can help explain how our gardens grow. A calendar becomes an important tool, especially for us busy (and forgetful) gardeners. It helps you remember as well as plan.

With big spaces, a monthly calendar serves as an at-a-glance garden journal, no app or power required. Jot down when you do something -- prune, spray, feed, plant, deep water, etc. You'll thank yourself later when you try to remember those dates.

Here's why a garden journal is important: If you stumble on something that works, you want to know what it was. That way, you may be able to repeat that success.

Make notes of significant weather -- rain, fog, very low or high temperatures, wind storms, frost. Changes in weather or unusual events may explain changes in plants. Those notes also may jog your memory when looking for answers.

After that, be as detailed as time and space allows. Name what varieties were planted (in case you want to plant them again). Note first harvests, and late harvests, too.


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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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