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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 March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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