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Garden tips: What to do in the garden this week

The autumnal equinox is behind us, and winter looms. Time to do some clean up in the garden, get the winter planting done, and get ready to ease into the slow lane.


Although we sometimes have downright hot days, the overall evaporation rate is slowing as the days grow shorter and the nights cooler. That means you can start reducing your irrigation schedule or, depending on what you’re growing, cut it off completely.
If we don’t have any rain in the next few weeks, water your trees and shrubs to a depth of about 12 inches, once this month.
You probably don’t need any more incentive after watching the destruction of Wine Country, but you really need to do some fire protection around your home. Prune low-lying branches on shrubs, and clean the eaves to remove leaf buildup. If you have flammable plants close to your home, you might want to get rid of them.
Shred pine needles, and use them as mulch beneath irrigated, acid-loving plants, or compost them. Trim away dead woody plant parts, and while using oak and redwood leaves beneath those trees as mulch is a good idea, you’ll need to shred them first if you live in a high fire danger zone.
Plant spring bulbs — daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths — this month and next. Chill tulips before planting.
This is the week to plant garlic and shallots for harvest next summer.
If you aren’t growing winter crops this year, considering planting a cover crop to protect your beds and improve their fertility. Plant legumes or grains, or a combination of both.

The Contra Costa Master Gardeners contributed to this report.

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