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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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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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