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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 Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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