Storms bring some good news; great planting weather ahead
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 Jan. 29
Bundle up and get work done!
* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.
* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.
* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.
* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.
* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.
* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.
* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.
* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.
* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.
* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.
* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.
* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.
* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.
* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.
* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.
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