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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of March 7

Plenty to do between showers in late-winter garden

Reddish leaves on growing rose bush
Look at all the new growth on this rose bush. It's a great time to fertilize roses
and annual flowers and berries as new growth appear. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)




Keep your umbrella handy. After a fast-moving storm started our weekend, more showers may be on the way. That’s good news during this very dry winter.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento is likely to see rain and possible thunderstorms Tuesday with a slight chance of showers late Monday and Wednesday. But otherwise, our forecast calls for a return to springlike weather by Thursday. After a few days in below-normal 50s, afternoon temperatures will return to the high 60s by Friday. All week, low temperatures will flirt with 40 degrees (if not a little colder).

Those overnight lows are a reminder: It’s still winter! Don’t transplant tomatoes, peppers or other summer veggies outdoors yet; they’ll just sulk.

But there’s plenty to keep you busy outdoors between raindrops. For example:

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use 2 tablespoons liquid soap — not detergent — to 1 quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* 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.

* Seed and renovate the lawn. 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.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce, broccoli, collards and kale. They’ll be ready for harvest in late May and early June.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* This is your last chance to plant such spring annuals as pansies, violas and primroses.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Harvest lettuce, Chinese cabbage, spinach and other greens before they form flower stalks.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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