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Happy New Year! Now, write this down

For its customers, Davey Tree created this 2019 calendar of big trees, with handy big spaces for making notes. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Calendar an important tool for garden success

Happy new year and new month!

January in Sacramento is usually a lot like December; both months average high temperatures of 54 degrees. January nights are slightly warmer; averaging 39 degrees, one more than December.

January usually is Sacramento's rainiest month, averaging more than 3.6 inches. It rarely gets hot; Sacramento's December record is 75 degrees. But it can get cold; this is our frostiest month, too.

But what will it be like in 2019?

Here's a page from Kathy Morrison's 2018 calendar: March temperatures in Carmichael
got down to 33 degrees, but shot up to 84 by the end of the month. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
Keeping track of variations in weather and other factors can help explain how our gardens grow. A calendar becomes an important tool, especially for us busy (and forgetful) gardeners. It helps you remember as well as plan.

With big spaces, a monthly calendar serves as an at-a-glance garden journal, no app or power required. Jot down when you do something -- prune, spray, feed, plant, deep water, etc. You'll thank yourself later when you try to remember those dates.

Here's why a garden journal is important: If you stumble on something that works, you want to know what it was. That way, you may be able to repeat that success.

Make notes of significant weather -- rain, fog, very low or high temperatures, wind storms, frost. Changes in weather or unusual events may explain changes in plants. Those notes also may jog your memory when looking for answers.

After that, be as detailed as time and space allows. Name what varieties were planted (in case you want to plant them again). Note first harvests, and late harvests, too.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

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

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer 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.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

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

* 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 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 can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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