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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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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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