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Dig In: Garden checklist for March 1


Berries, roses and annual flowers could use some fertilizer now. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)
Warmth prompts rapid spring growth



Will March finally give us some rain?

Typically, March delivers about 2.75 inches of precipitation. We could sure use it.

After the driest February on record in Sacramento, our gardens may be thirsty. Check soil moisture and start deep watering.

Following several days in the 70s (and some record-setting high temperatures), we’re expected to cool down to normal for this first week of March: days in the mid 60s and nights in the 40s.

Be ready for rapid changes. Highs can soar to the upper 80s and overnight lows may flirt with freezing. Our record low for March is 26 degrees. Sacramento’s traditional frost date (the last night to worry about sub-freezing cold) is March 20.

All this recent warmth has prompted an explosion of growth in the garden.

What tasks should top your list?

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

Got weeds? Sure, who doesn't? Get them out of there soon.
* 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.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

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

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events; they do well when transplanted now.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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