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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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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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