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Rain? What rain? We're still in dry year

Yes, we've had some rain this month, but less than normal. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Could we be inching towards another drought?

No March miracle for Sacramento this year; we’re still dry.

Although March had some rain, it didn’t add up to that much: 1.68 inches total for the month. “Normal” for March is 3.02 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

That sub-par March followed a bone-dry February, the first Sacramento February in recorded weather history with no precipitation at all.

So, where does that put us on the rain scale? We could be inching towards another drought.

According to the NWS, Sacramento’s rain total since Oct. 1 – the start of our rain year – is only 7.71 inches. That’s less than half of our average to date – 16.08 inches. Last year (which was a wet one), we had received 20.31 inches by the end of March.

That soggy 2019 will help get us through this dry 2020. Our reservoirs are in good shape, which likely will stave off irrigation restrictions and other drought precautions.

But your garden may need some deep watering – especially large trees and shrubs.

Keep an eye on soil moisture. Check your landscape for dry spots. If you can’t plunge a long screwdriver or similar tool at least 6 inches into the ground, give those nearby plants a long, slow drink.

Will spring showers make up for that rain shortfall? It’s unlikely. Historically, Sacramento’s April, May and June average 2 inches of rain combined.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

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

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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