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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 17

Rainy days will keep Sacramento gardens cool and damp

Artichoke on plant
Harvest artichokes when the buds are full but still tight. The small ones can be
harvested, too. Or let them flower for the bees to enjoy. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)


Will April showers bring May flowers? It won’t hurt. After a record dry first quarter of 2022, this spring rain certainly is needed.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect some precipitation almost every day this coming week. Our rainy forecast peaks on Thursday with more than a half inch of rain, predicts the weather service.

These spring storms are actually pretty normal. Typically, April averages 1.15 inches of rain in Sacramento. All these clouds will keep temperatures a little lower than average with afternoon highs in the 60s.

Meanwhile, nights will be cool, too, with lows on Sunday and Monday dipping down to about 42 degrees. If you already set out tomatoes and peppers, keep them warm with hot caps or other cover. But don’t expect much growth until later this month.

In between showers, take advantage of soft soil.

* Weed, weed, weed! Remove them before they go to seed. Whack them with a hoe, just below the soil surface, to cut off the crown.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* 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.

* 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, carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, fennel, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets and seed potatoes.

* 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.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings. Wait a week on tomatoes and peppers.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 27

Before the rain comes later in the week, take advantage of sunny, calm days:

* This may be your last chance this season for the first application of copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees. Leaf curl, which shows up in the spring, is caused by a fungus that winters as spores on the limbs and around the tree in fallen leaves. Sprays are most effective now, but they need a few days of dry weather after application to really “stick.” If you haven’t yet, spray now.

* Rake and compost leaves, but dispose of any diseased plant material. For example, if peach and nectarine trees showed signs of leaf curl this year, clean up under trees and dispose of those leaves instead of composting.

* Make sure storm drains are clear of any debris.

* Give your azaleas, gardenias and camellias a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim chrysanthemums to 6 to 8 inches above the ground after they’re done blooming. Keep potted mums in their containers until next spring. Then, they can be planted in the ground, if desired, or repotted.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant.

* Plant bulbs for spring bloom. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Other suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas.

* Seed wildflowers including California poppies.

* Also from seed, plant sweet pea, sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons and other spring flowers.

* Plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from winter rains.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cool-season greens can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* If you decide to use a living Christmas tree this year, keep it outside in a sunny location until Christmas week. This reduces stress on the young tree.

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