Rainy conditions expected to be followed by cold nights
Cold nights have brought out fall colors. Expect to rake some leaves this week.
Get out your rain buckets; it’s time to catch some storm water.
According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect 1 to 1-1/2 inches between Saturday night and Wednesday evening. That’s good news. Even better, that rain will be spread out over several days. That’s the sort of soaking rain our gardens need.
All that cloud cover will keep temperatures cooler than normal for early November. Afternoon highs will be in the low to mid 50s all week, about 10 degrees below average. Overnight lows will stay in the 40s through Wednesday. As skies clear, those lows will dip into the low 30s. Keep frost cloths near.
Keep rakes handy, too. Those colder temperatures will bring out fall colors. But gusty wind and rain will bring a lot of leaves down in a hurry.
What to do between cloudbursts or after the rain:
* Save fall leaves and recycle as mulch. Roughly chop larger leaves with a land mower. Or add leaves to compost.
* If leaves look funky, don’t recycle those problems. Dispose of any diseased plant material. For example, if peach and nectarine trees showed signs of leaf curl this year, clean up under trees and dispose of those leaves instead of composting.
* Save dry stalks and seedpods from poppies and coneflowers for fall bouquets and holiday decorating.
* Give your azaleas, gardenias and camellias a boost with chelated iron.
* After they bloom, chrysanthemums should be trimmed to 6 to 8 inches above the ground. If in pots, keep the mums in their containers until next spring. Then, they can be planted in the ground, if desired, or repotted.
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant.
* Keep planting bulbs to spread out your spring bloom. Some possible suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, tulips, anemones and scillas.
* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.
* Take advantage of softer soil; plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.
* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.
* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.
* Plant garlic and onions.
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Dig In: Garden Checklist
For week of March 19:
Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:
* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.
* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.
* 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 fight blossom blight.
* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.
* 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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