Sunny, dry weather continues; time to get stuff done
Bare-root blueberries are plentiful in stores now. Bare-root plants offer the best selection
and best prices of the growing year. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
One month wet, the next month dry; that’s been our weather pattern this Sacramento winter. Just as a nearly rainless November was sandwiched between soggy October and December, this very dry January is expected to see no more rain.
According to the National Weather Service, our next chance of precipitation won’t be until early February. Meanwhile, afternoon highs will remain in the 60s, well above our January average of 54. Overnight lows will be normal – 39 degrees – with foothill areas perhaps seeing a touch of frost early Monday morning.
This dry spell is not good news for water watchers. January averages 3.64 inches of rain in Sacramento. So far, January’s total for downtown Sacramento: 0.05 inches.
This lack of precipitation coupled with warmer than average temperatures and strong wind means your garden is likely getting thirsty. Seedlings and new transplants will need a deep soaking. So will anything planted in containers.
Otherwise, make use of these sunny days. There’s a lot to do in the winter garden:
* Prune, prune, prune. That includes most deciduous trees, shrubs and roses.
* 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 soon after a rain 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.
* When forced bulbs sprout, move them to a cool, bright window. Give them a quarter turn each day so the stems will grow straight.
* 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 berries as well as 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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Dig In: Garden Checklist
For week of March 19:
Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:
* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.
* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.
* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.
* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.
* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.
* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.
* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.
* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.
* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.
* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.
* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.
* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.
* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.
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