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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 24

Storms bring some good news; great planting weather ahead

Rose-pink geranium blossom
Transplant geraniums for color all summer long.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Those fast-moving storm systems that blew through Sacramento brought good news: April snow. That improved the Sierra snowpack and our overall water outlook.

“Recent rain and snow has brought some improvement to the Northern Sierra (8-Station Index), which is now 39.2 inches,” tweeted the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office on Saturday morning. “This is 83% of normal for this date in the water year.”

April showers also improved Sacramento’s own water totals. Since Oct. 1 (the start of our water year), Sacramento has received 16.39 inches; that’s 92% of average, 17.70 inches. At this point last year, our water year total was only 7.87 inches.

But overall, 2022 remains a very dry year. Sacramento’s rain total since Jan. 1 has been only 1.95 inches – most of that in March and April. Our April rain total so far (0.96 inches) is almost the same as our March total (0.94). Average for this same four-month period: 11.50 inches.

Several neighborhoods got an unwelcome surprise during these storms: Hail. Another reminder why late April and early May are traditionally tomato-planting time.

Speaking of which, this will be a wonderful week for spring gardening, says the weather service. Highs will be in the mid to upper 70s with overnight lows in the high 40s.

* Swing into action in the vegetable garden. Set out tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, 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.

* Late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

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

* 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.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* 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 two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart 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.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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