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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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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