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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 April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* 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.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* 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.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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