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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of March 14

Weed and feed while waiting for soil to warm

Pink camellia blossoms on the ground
The camellias are blooming -- and dropping blossoms. Get them up quickly
to help prevent blossom blight. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Recent rain felt refreshing (although the hail hurt a little). But it will take a lot more precipitation to catch up with our March average. So far this month, Sacramento has received 0.55 inch – most of it falling in Tuesday’s thunderstorms. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento usually gets 1.28 inches in the first two weeks of March.

More showers are expected late Sunday night and early Monday, but the rest of the week is expected to be dry and cool. There’s a slight chance of showers Friday, but otherwise we’ll be mostly sunny.

Clear conditions contribute to cold nights, so overnight lows will dip down into the high 30s. That makes for a cold start to each day, and afternoon temperatures only in the low 60s. That’s colder than normal for Sacramento in mid-March, which averages 65 in the afternoons and lows around 45.

So keep the tomatoes and peppers indoors a little while longer. The ground is still too cold.

Instead, it’s time to weed and feed – but be careful using products that promise to do both. You may kill a lot more than unwanted dandelions.

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

* Weed, weed, weed! It’s either now or later.

* Harvest winter vegetables and make room for summer crops.

* Prepare vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

*Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed roses with a balanced fertilizer (such as 4-4-4, the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium available in that product).

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

* Transplant one last round of 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.

Correction note: Due to a typo, the Friday post's cutline (since fixed) said the city of Sacramento's allowed watering period ends at 7 a.m. It should have said 10 a.m.


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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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