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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 21

Sunny days ahead as spring arrives early

Several yellow daffodils
Daffodils can't help but add some cheer to any
landscape. It feels like spring, even though the
season doesn't change for another month.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)

If you haven’t noticed, spring arrived early in Sacramento. Pear and peach trees already are nearing full bloom. Bright yellow daffodils seem scattered everywhere.

Spurred by warm temperatures, plants of all kinds are growing rapidly. And more warmth is on its way.

Our gardens certainly appreciated recent rain, but it was only a drop in our water-year bucket. Friday’s precipitation totaled less than 0.1 inch. According to the National Weather Service, that brings our February total to 0.85 inches – far below our February average of 3.5 inches. Overall, Sacramento has received 3.35 inches of rain in 2021 (2.7 inches below average) and 5.43 inches since Oct. 1, the start of our water year. That total is nearly 7 inches off where we should be by now.

Although it rained Friday, check soil moisture in your garden. Some plants may need more water (especially those in containers or under trees).

That may be it for our rain this month, too. The forecast for the week ahead is relentlessly sunny, with high temperatures flirting with 70 degrees and overnight lows in the 40s. In other words, it will continue to feel just like early spring.

Make the most of this beautiful weather with time outdoors well spent.

* Weed, weed, weed! Pull out unwanted invaders while they’re small.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer.

* Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Transplant or direct-seed late spring and summer flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale and lettuce.

* Plant artichokes, asparagus, horseradish and strawberries from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

* Plant summer-flowering bulbs including cannas, calla lilies and gladiolus.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* 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 two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one 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.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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