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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of March 10

Spring is almost here (but first, some more rain)

Another harbinger of spring is the profusion of color from blooming freesias. Enjoy the sunshine this weekend -- rain returns for a few days.

Another harbinger of spring is the profusion of color from blooming freesias. Enjoy the sunshine this weekend -- rain returns for a few days. Kathy Morrison

Warm afternoons have us feeling like spring – and flowers popping out all over.

But keep those umbrellas handy (if they’re not worn out by now). More rain is expected Sunday evening and again on Monday.

According to the National Weather Service, two fast-moving storm systems will flow over Sacramento on their way to the Sierra where they’re expected to dump more snow. These storms won’t deliver much rain – less than a half inch total, says the weather service. But they’ll keep conditions cool and damp through Tuesday. Afternoons will feel chilly, barely climbing into the 60s with nights in the mid 40s.

Then our weather will warm up dramatically, with 74 degrees and sun forecast for Friday.

Get your garden ready for spring and plenty of growth coming fast.

* 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.

* 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.

* 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 eggplant, as well as summer flowers.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). 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. (Tip: Beets' germination rate is helped by soaking the seeds overnight first.)

* Before the mercury starts inching upward, this is your last chance to plant such 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 June 23

Get to work in the mornings while it’s still cool.

* Irrigate early in the day; your plants will appreciate it.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the early hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes. 

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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