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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 25

Enjoy a glimpse of spring before more rain arrives

This is bedstraw, an obnoxious, sticky weed that gets worse the bigger it gets. Dig it out now while it’s small.

This is bedstraw, an obnoxious, sticky weed that gets worse the bigger it gets. Dig it out now while it’s small. Kathy Morrison

Enjoy this weekend’s taste of spring – but keep those umbrellas handy.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento has a 40% chance of rain showers on Monday morning, then “likely” to “definite rain” on Thursday night and Friday.

For most of Sacramento, the first storm will offer light rain if any. The weather service expects less than 0.1 inches. But the later storm could deliver a half inch or more of precipitation.

After our sunny break with temperatures nudging near 70, we’ll be back in the low 60s for the next several days. Nights will be chilly. With clear skies between storms, overnight lows on Tuesday and Wednesday will dip to about 40 degrees.

Make the most of clear days and get to work! The real spring will be here soon.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use 2 tablespoons of liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart of water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Start preparing 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.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs and trees after they bloom. Try using well-composted manure, spread 1-inch thick under the tree. This serves as both fertilizer and mulch, retaining moisture while cutting down on weeds.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and cole family plants, such as cabbage, broccoli, collards and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Before the mercury starts inching upward, this is your last chance to plant such annuals as pansies, violas and primroses.

* 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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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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