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Dig In: Garden checklist for Dec. 9

Leaves piling up? Put them to work in the garden as mulch or in
a new compost pile. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Make the most of sunny December days; plant and renovate

Get out and enjoy the bright sunshine during these brisk December days.

In between storms, soil is soft and ready for renovation. Add some compost to the vegetable beds to prepare them for future planting. Make use of fallen leaves as instant mulch.

Need more ideas?

* Empty standing water under pots or other spots where rain may have collected. Put saucers away for winter.

* Clear debris away from storm drains. If piling leaves in the street for pick-up, make sure water can flow freely in gutters.

* Tidy up fallen branches and leaves knocked down by stormy weather.

* Start a new compost pile with all those fallen leaves. Add some manure and compost starter to get decomposition rolling.

* Start pruning dormant trees and shrubs. Cut back vines.

* Transplant trees, shrubs and perennials. That will help them get established before spring growth.

* For winter and early spring color, transplant Iceland poppies, primroses, pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies and snapdragons.

* Plant sweet peas from seed.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips in the refrigerator.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, peas, lettuce, mustard, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant garlic and onions now for harvest in summer.

* Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

* Dig up new potatoes after the vines die back.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

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

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* 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 fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* 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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