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Give your garden some post-storm TLC

Check around the garden for containers -- empty or otherwise -- that might have accumulated excess rain. Tip it out or dump it into plants under the eaves. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

How did your landscape cope with so much rain?

We may not have had a March miracle, but so far April showers have us soaked.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento received about 2.2 inches in two days – more rain than the whole month of March. That’s also more than Sacramento historically averages for April, May and June combined.

How did your garden hold up during the weekend storm? It’s time for a post-rain check-up:

* Postpone planting or any other digging this week until soil has a chance to dry out a little. Working wet ground can cause compaction and root problems.

* This storm probably gave you a good idea about where the low spots are in your landscape. Mark them with a stick, so you’ll remember where they are when the landscape dries out. Avoid planting anything in that wet spot that demands good drainage.

* Consider such soggy spots for a rain garden, where water can naturally percolate into the ground to irrigate the landscape.

* Make sure storm drains, gutters and down spouts are clear of debris. These storms brought down a lot of tree litter from evergreens.

* Tip excess water out of containers. Make sure potted plants aren’t waterlogged.

* Eliminate any standing water that may have accumulated in wheelbarrows, saucers, etc.

* Not everything got watered by the rain. Check plants under eaves and overhangs; they may need a drink.

* Turn off the sprinklers. This storm saturated the soil. You can delay further irrigation for at least a week and save water – on average 800 gallons.


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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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