Pre-Christmas week looks chilly but dry
Expect frosty mornings for a few more days.
The final days of fall will be chilly and foggy. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect “widespread frost and fog” Saturday through Monday. Ground moisture and frosty nights will combine to create thick fog in many sections of the greater Sacramento area.
Overnight lows will dip to freezing or just below; stay on frost alert the next three nights. Daytime highs will be on the cold side, too, topping out at 53.
Midweek cloud cover will keep nights warmer – above 40 degrees – and help warm afternoons, too. The final shopping – and gardening – days before Christmas (and first days of winter) should be in the high 50s, says the weather service.
Unfortunately, those clouds are unlikely to drop any local rain; check soil moisture, then turn on irrigation as needed.
* Wednesday is the first day of winter, the shortest day of the year – and the traditional time to plant garlic and onions for harvest in summer.
* Mulch, water and cover tender plants to protect them during threat of frost. Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.
* Just because it rained last week 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. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.
* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.
* Start pruning roses even if they’re still blooming. Make sure to remove foliage and rake out fallen leaves from beneath bushes to prevent spread of fungal disease.
* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.
* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
* Bare-root season is here. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.
* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head or leaf lettuce, mustard, radicchio and radishes.
* Browse through seed catalogs and start making plans for spring and summer.
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Dig In: Garden Checklist
For week of March 26:
Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:
* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.
* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.
* 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 help corral blossom blight.
* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.
To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.
* 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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