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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 28

Sunny, dry days continue with little rain in sight

Six packs of red cabbage seedlings
There's still time to plant a crop of cabbage, but get on it soon. Kale
and other cole seedlings also can be planted now. Lettuce, too. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Our streak of sunny, dry weather continues. That’s bad news for our rain totals, but most Sacramento gardeners aren’t complaining.

According to the National Weather Service, February totaled less than an inch (0.9 to be exact) of precipitation in Sacramento – 2.34 inches below normal. That near-inch was a deluge compared to February 2020, which saw no rain in Sacramento at all.

Starting Oct. 1, our rain year has totaled 5.48 inches; that’s 7.68 inches below average for those first five months. It’s also dryer than last year’s drought-like pace, which saw a total of 6.14 inches at this point.

The first week of March looks sunny and dry, too, says the weather service. The first chance of precipitation may come next weekend.

Highs are forecast for the upper 60s, pushing into the 70s Wednesday or Thursday. But don’t plant those tomatoes yet; overnight lows still will be cold, dipping down to 40 degrees.

Average for Sacramento in March: 65-degree highs and 44-degree lows. We also typically see about 2.75 inches of rain in March, although drought watchers hope for a lot more.

Take advantage of this spring-like weather by enjoying some quality time in your garden:

* 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.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* 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 and cole family plants, such as cabbage, broccoli, collards and kale.

* 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.


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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