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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 2

Nurseries have plenty of bulbs in stock. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Still time to plant; make most of breaks between storms

What a difference a few rainy days make! After a bone-dry October and smoke-filled November, we've gone from droughtlike conditions back to almost normal seasonal precipitation.

Our recent storm has nearly caught up Sacramento rainfall totals to where we should be on Dec. 1. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento Executive Airport received 1.53 inches since Wednesday. That brings the season total up to 2.75 inches; normal is 3.5 inches for these first two months. All but 0.04 inches of that total came since Nov. 21.

That total also made November rainier than normal. On average, Sacramento gets 2.09 inches in November.

December usually is among the wettest months in Sacramento, averaging 3.27 inches. Right now, it looks like it will be just that.

This month starts out rainy with a chance of showers through Wednesday night, the NWS predicts. But between storms there will be bright sun (and fog).

Make the most of those breaks in the weather to take advantage of soft soil.
Daffodil bulbs can go right in the ground now.

* Ground temperatures are still warm enough to make a difference and help transplants get established. It's a good time for planting trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants. If the soil is too wet, wait a few days. Add some compost or potting mix to the planting holes.

* Time to take the bulbs out of the refrigerator and plant them. Want bulbs with no chill required? Daffodils, Dutch iris, freesias, anemones, ranunculus and more can go straight in the ground.

* Rake up leaves knocked down by these storms. Recycle them into mulch or compost.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials. Use markers or stakes to remember where those perennials are planted.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant. It's easier to prune deciduous trees without their leaves.

* 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.

* Need some instant color? Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, chard, kale and several other leafy greens can be planted now. Plant garlic and onions.


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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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