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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of March 27

Rain coming soon -- but how much?

Orange trees are blooming, including this one in Midtown Sacramento. The blossoms are a reminder to give the trees a low dose of balanced fertilizer. (Photo:
Debbie Arrington)

Sacramento can (finally) expect more rain Monday, maybe even Sunday evening. But how much?

According to the National Weather Service, estimates are just that – estimates. This fast-moving storm system could drop as much as an inch of rain on Sacramento – or just 0.10.

Most likely, it will be somewhere in between those amounts. As of late Friday night, the weather service pegs Sacramento's total at 0.62 inches with “definite rain showers and thunderstorms” forecast throughout Monday.

Otherwise, our final days of March will stay mostly on the warm side with afternoons in the mid 70s while overnight lows will keep dipping into the 40s.

Expect more of the same for at least a little while. April in Sacramento averages highs of 71 degrees and lows of 46.

* 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.

* Early spring 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.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Watch out for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases.

* Knock aphids off plants with a strong blast of water.

* 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.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

* Gradually expose tomato and pepper seedlings to outdoor conditions, starting with a few hours in morning sun. As soil warms, these "hardened off" transplants can go in the ground.

* From seed, plant beets, carrots, chard, chives, fennel, mustard, radishes, squash and turnips. Plant seed potatoes.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia and sunflowers.

* Transplant petunias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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