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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 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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