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It's leaf season -- here come The Claws!

Sacramento crews now picking up street piles

The Claw is a popular member of the City of Sacramento street crew.

The Claw is a popular member of the City of Sacramento street crew. Courtesy City of Sacramento

It’s leaf season and, in Sacramento, that means it’s Claw season, too.

And after Thursday’s storm, many Sacramento neighborhoods could use a visit – leaves are everywhere!

Now through the end of January, The Claws – Sacramento’s specialized fleet of articulated tractors – will be making the rounds, scooping up leaf piles on city streets. Jan. 23 is the last day that residents can set out piles for pick-up.

On average, each household will get about seven visits from The Claw, estimate city officials. Residents can find out when The Claw will be in their neighborhood with The Claw calendar, available on Sacramento’s official Leaf Season webpage, www.SacLeafSmart.org.

In all, The Claw crews expect to pick up about 20,000 tons of material this season. Besides leaves, branches and other pruning debris are also accepted. (No tree stumps allowed.)

Although organic food waste (along with leaves and yard debris) now goes in the green-waste container, don’t dump food waste or paper into leaf piles. The Claw won’t pick them up.

Here are more leaf season tips:

* Leaf piles can be no bigger than 4 by 4 by 9 feet (and just one per household). Make sure there is space between the pile and the curb so water can flow down the gutter. Also, place the pile at least 6 feet away from cars, boats, basketball hoops or other obstructions. The Claw needs room to maneuver.

* Don’t put plastic bags in street piles (including bags full of leaves). And don’t contaminate the leaf pile with trash or dog poop (a common problem).

* During leaf season, the City of Sacramento continues to pick up green-waste containers. Fill those first before piling leaves in the street, advises the recycling and solid waste department. The containers will get picked up 13 times during leaf season.

For more information: SacLeafSmart.org.

-- Debbie Arrington

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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