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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of March 21

Spring starts sunny, warm and dry -- so get to work!

Seed packages for beets, chard and radishes
Get growing! Perfect time to plant beets, chard and radishes from seed. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)



Happy first day of spring! Expect flowers (and weeds!) to be popping up everywhere – especially with another wave of warm weather on its way.

According to the National Weather Service, this first week of spring will be dry and sunny with temperatures back in the low 70s by Tuesday. In other words, it’s ideal spring planting weather.

On the downside, no rain is in the seven-day forecast and looks unlikely before month’s end. That’s not good news for water watchers.

So far in March, Sacramento has received 1.06 inches of rain, far short of the month’s 3.4-inch average. For 2021, Sacramento’s total rainfall measures only 4.46 inches, less than half of normal.

Our water year, which started Oct. 1, has totaled 6.54 inches, 8.77 inches below average. It’s even drier than the 2019-20 water year, which had totaled 7.55 inches at this point. And that was a very dry year.

That’s something to keep in mind when planting for late spring and summer. In the meantime, enjoy this first week of spring by showing your garden some TLC.

* 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.

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

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

* Start preparing vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

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

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard, radishes 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. They can be transplanted now while the soil remains relatively cool.

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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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