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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 1

New year starts soggy, with more rain on the way

We’ve had a lot of rain, and this gauge tells the tale: 2-3/4 inches as of 11 a.m. Saturday. That’s been just since Christmas.

We’ve had a lot of rain, and this gauge tells the tale: 2-3/4 inches as of 11 a.m. Saturday. That’s been just since Christmas.

Debbie Arrington

Keep your rain gear handy. We’re still wading through this atmospheric river with more to come.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento and the surrounding areas can expect to get soaked, not only on New Year’s Eve but in the coming week. After a dry New Year’s Day, “likely rain” or “definite rain” is in the forecast for Sacramento on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Heading into New Year’s Eve, Sacramento already had 7.13 inches of rain (including 2.44 inches since Monday) with another inch or two expected to fall before the clock strikes midnight.

This December may feel like deja vu. We had a very wet December to wrap up 2021 with 6.98 inches of rain in downtown Sacramento; that’s double “normal” for this month. But after showers on Jan. 5, Sacramento saw its rain totals plummet with several very dry months.

To start 2023, the weather service predicts 2 to 3 inches of rain for Sacramento on top of 1 to 2 inches on Saturday.

Make the most of gaps between storms, but hold off on putting any seeds or plants into the ground – it’s too soggy! New transplants can rot. Wait until next week after these storms have passed.

* Prune, prune, prune. January is the right time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* This month also is the time to prune most deciduous fruit trees. (The exception is apricots, which are summer pruned.) Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Browse through seed catalogs and start making plans for spring and summer.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

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

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

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

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

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* 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. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

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

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