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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 3

First 90-degree days of 2022 expected soon

Baby peaches on branch
Fruit trees are setting fruit and would appreciate a good soak before temperatures
pop into the 90s later this week. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Early April will feel more like late May as near-record heat is on the way. Sacramento could see 90 degrees by next weekend.

According to the National Weather Service, “We are going to see an extended period of quiet weather with a big warmup in store for the mid to end of next week. Some locations could see their first 90 degree-plus (high) of the year.”

Sacramento starts out warm. After expected 80-degree highs this weekend, cloud cover will cool temperatures slightly; 77 degrees is the Monday-Tuesday forecast. But then the heat really spikes, with 92 degrees forecast for Thursday and Friday. Both highs would be records for those dates – and 20 degrees above normal. Sacramento averages 71 degrees in April; our all-time hottest April day was 96 degrees.

Meanwhile, our overnight lows will stay relatively normal, in the mid to high 40s. Sacramento’s average low for April is 46 degrees.

After a bone-dry January and February, this warm spring weather has affected the Sierra snow pack – bad news for us Valley water users. Released Friday, the totals were bleak.

“Unfortunately, the new snow pack numbers are not an April fools joke,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office. “@CA_DWR (California Department of Water Resources) measured only 4% of average for the Phillips Station today with the statewide percent of average at 38%.”

That means water restrictions will almost certainly go into effect at some point this year, likely sooner than later. Keep that in mind while planting your summer garden.

Is it warm enough to plant tomatoes? It might be too hot this week with those 90s in the forecast. On the other hand, that heat might finally warm up the soil enough to transplant summer vegetables. Raised beds and container gardens warm more rapidly than flat ground.

Just make sure to keep seedlings and new transplants hydrated. Before those 90-degree days arrive, deep-water trees and shrubs.

Other tasks for your garden to-do list:

* 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.

* Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of aged 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.

* Feed citrus with a low dose of balanced fertilizer during this month’s bloom and fruit set.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, carrots, celery, chard, fennel, radishes, seed potatoes, spinach 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.

* Plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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