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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 11

Be prepared for lots of rain, wind and frost

The strong winds and rain are knocking down lots of tree debris. Keep storm drains clear to prevent street flooding.

The strong winds and rain are knocking down lots of tree debris. Keep storm drains clear to prevent street flooding.

Kathy Morrison

It’s not quite winter, but you can’t tell that from this week’s forecast. A series of storms will drench the greater Sacramento area accompanied by strong gusty winds.

Between rainy days, overnight lows will plunge into the low 30s, bringing frost danger as well as possible fog.

On Saturday morning, the National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for an area stretching from the Sierra foothills to Fairfield. “Periods of moderate to locally heavy rain may bring localized roadway flooding and rises to small streams,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office.

More than an inch of rain is expected this weekend before clearing Monday. But that’s when nights get cold with lows of 32 degrees forecast for Monday and Tuesday.

Daytime highs will be on the cold side, too, with low 50s through next weekend.

Keep umbrellas handy; more showers are expected next Saturday, too.

In between storms, assess what needs to be done to help your garden cope:

* Prune broken limbs. Also tend to non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Got a leaning tree? Wind and rain can push over evergreens and other trees, especially if their roots have been weakened by drought. Call an arborist and bring in expert help immediately before the tree falls completely.

* After so much rain, succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Protect from cold when frost is in the forecast. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Start pruning roses. Remove all foliage and rake up leaves under bushes.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses. Plant in pots for instant color.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – most likely indoors. Don’t leave poinsettias outside in rain and cold.

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

* Pick up debris knocked down by wind and rain. Keep storm drains clear.

* 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.

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

* It’s not too late to plant spring bulbs, especially in pots.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

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

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

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

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

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

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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