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Showers break Sacramento's record dry spell at 66 days

Storm drops 0.34 inches; more rain -- then heat -- coming soon


Moisture meter in pot
Well, it's better than "dry" but Tuesday morning's rain isn't going to solve all the
garden irrigation needs. Pots especially, as the meter above shows, didn't get
thoroughly soaked. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

During the last week of winter, Sacramento finally snapped its dry streak. At long last, we got measurable rain.

“Drought buster? Hardly, but we did finally snap the longest dry streak in winter at downtown Sacramento this past hour,” the National Weather Service tweeted at 3 a.m. Tuesday. “After 66 days of dry, we can now add 0.02 (inches) to the water year totals.”

Fortunately, more rain fell during Tuesday morning. According to the weather service, as of 1 p.m., Downtown Sacramento had received 0.34 inches, making Tuesday the rainiest day of 2022 (so far).

Tuesday’s showers broke a record winter dry spell that was three weeks longer than Sacramento’s previous longest streak without measurable precipitation during our October-April rainy season. Before these almost-spring showers, downtown Sacramento last got measurable rain (0.05 inches) on Jan. 7. Normally during January and February, Sacramento gets more than 7 inches of rain.

March will add to its rain total later this week. The weather service forecasts more showers on Saturday, starting sometime after 11 p.m. Friday. But we’ll need a lot more to get on track with something approaching normal; March historically averages 2.75 inches of rain in Sacramento.

What does this mean for your garden? You probably need to water. Irrigate young transplants and keep newly planted seeds evenly moist. Put down a fresh layer of mulch around tender (and thirsty) plants.

Before irrigating, check the soil for moisture. If you can’t plunge a 6-inch screwdriver more than an inch or two into the ground, deep water now.

Or use a trowel to actually take a look at your soil. Dig down and roll some dirt in your hands. If it clumps into a ball, it has enough moisture. If it doesn’t, irrigate.

Fast-growing and blooming plants will really need that moisture next week. After a showery and cool Saturday, temperatures are expected to climb rapidly. Sacramento’s forecast for next Tuesday: 84 degrees.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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