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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Dec. 18

Pre-Christmas week looks chilly but dry

Expect frosty mornings for a few more days.

Expect frosty mornings for a few more days. Kathy Morrison

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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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