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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 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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