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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 4

December gets off to a soggy start – just what we need

Raindrops give a whole different look to this heavenly bamboo shrub (aka nandina).

Raindrops give a whole different look to this heavenly bamboo shrub (aka nandina).

Kathy Morrison

Keep your umbrella handy this week; we’re in for a lot of wet weather. Considering how dry this year has been, that’s welcome news.

According to the National Weather Service, possible rain is in the forecast for all this weekend plus more showers on Monday, Tuesday morning and all day Friday. These off-and-on storms should total more than 1.2 inches of rain.

On top of the 0.58 inches that Sacramento received Thursday, that’s a solid start to December’s rain totals. Historically, December averages 3.25 inches.

All this cloud cover is keeping temperatures right around average for early December. Forecast highs are in the low to mid 50s all week; December highs in Sacramento average 54. Lows should stay above freezing, too, which is normal; our average low for December is 38.

What to do between raindrops? Here are some suggestions:

* Prune non-flowering deciduous trees and shrubs after they’ve lost their leaves.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies, snapdragons and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – out of the chilly rain. Water thoroughly.

* 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 eaves or under evergreen trees.

* Bare-root season has begun. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. But beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

* It’s your last chance to plant spring bulbs such as daffodils, crocuses, anemones and scillas. Don’t forget the tulips and hyacinths chilling in the refrigerator.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and spring flowers such as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, chard and other leafy greens.

* Plant garlic and onions.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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