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2022 rain total? Sacramento's driest year on record thus far

Since Jan. 1, Sacramento has received only 2 inches --10.6 below average

Soaker hose on mulch
A soaker hose can deliver a long, slow drink of
water to precious trees and shrubs. Mulch helps
keep the moisture from evaporating
too quickly. If possible, position the hose under
the mulch for a better soak.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)


How dry are we? Our lack of rain is taking on historical proportions.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento has recorded its driest first five months in 128 years. That’s how long the weather service has been keeping track of our rain totals.

And so far in 2022, those totals have been mighty bleak. Since Jan. 1, downtown Sacramento has recorded just over 2 inches – 2.01 – in total precipitation, says the weather service. That includes 0.06 for all of May. Normal for May: 0.84 inches.

Rain totals for March (0.94) and April (0.96) were less than 1 inch for each month. That followed a rainless February and a nearly dry January (0.05).

Sacramento’s normal rainfall total for the first five months: 12.6 inches. That’s almost a 10.6-inch shortfall. (And yes, that means we are in a drought – again.)

Don’t expect much June precipitation to add to those totals. Sacramento’s June rainfall averages 0.21 inches – or one good summer cloudburst. According to the weather service, there’s a 25% chance of showers Sunday, June 5, but it will only be a drizzle (if it materializes) – 0.03 inches.

That lack of good soaking rain can mean rock-hard soil – particularly in areas without regular irrigation. Without a source of moisture, roots of trees and shrubs tend to die back, weakening the plant and causing instability.

To save your landscape, deep-water trees and shrubs. Give them a long, slow drink with a soaker hose.

Lack of moisture also increases fire danger. Grasses and other vegetation in unirrigated pastures and wilderness areas have already dried out and browned to a crisp. One spark can start a wildfire.

In breezy conditions (such as this week), avoid mowing dry grass or using power tools that may strike a rock and spark.

May also continued a trend of warmer than usual weather. Daily highs averaged 83.6 degrees, 2.4 above normal.

What can we expect in June? Besides mostly dry days, June averages highs of 87 degrees and lows of 56. But triple digits are not uncommon. The hottest June day on record in Sacramento: 115 degrees.

For more on Sacramento weather: https://www.weather.gov/sto/#

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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