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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of Nov. 18

Plant amaryllis indoors now for winter bloom. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Smoky air complicates fall gardening; plant inside instead

Air too yucky to be outside? Garden indoors instead.

* Dust or rinse foliage of indoor plants. That greenery is helping purify your inside air. Give houseplants some TLC; a little misting can revitalize leaves. Remove any browned or damaged foliage. Water with half-strength fertilizer.

* Got bulbs? Pot some up for winter blooms indoors. Plant amaryllis, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths or other favorites in good fast-draining potting mix. Add 1 tablespoon bone meal to each pot before planting. Place bulbs at a shallow depth for faster growth and bloom. Water once, then place in a warm sunny window. Water as needed as bulbs sprout and grow.

* For holiday blooms indoors, plant paperwhite narcissus bulbs now. No soil is necessary.

Fill a shallow bowl or dish with 2 inches of rocks or pebbles. Place bulbs in the dish with the root end nestled in the rocks. Add water until it just touches the bottom of the bulbs. Place the dish in a sunny window. Add water as needed.
Apple Blossom amaryllis in bloom

Meanwhile, before going outside:

* Monitor air quality at . Particulate matter from the Camp Fire has created hazardous conditions. Sacramento hit 301 on the Air Quality Index on Friday, with forecasts improving to “unhealthy” for Sunday through Tuesday. With information from Sacramento Region air quality districts, the website includes forecasts and reports for several spots in the Valley and foothills. Air quality varies greatly.

* If you can see smoky air, stay indoors as much as possible. Limit outdoor exercise and exposure.

* Monitor temperatures, too. We’re entering frost season with overnight lows dipping below freezing. Protect sensitive plants.

* If frost is in the forecast, irrigate the garden. Moist soil is warmer than dry and hydrated plants better withstand low temperatures.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* 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 eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* 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.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* 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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