December has been good for rain totals -- so far
Keep frost cloths handy but not on tender plants -- such as this lime tree -- during the daytime this week. Clothespins or binder clips can help keep the cloths together at night if you have to use more than one cloth to cover a plant.
Turn off the sprinklers! After our recent soaking rain, our irrigation systems can take a break.
How much rain did we get? Enough to get our current water year back on track.
According to the National Weather Service, downtown Sacramento has received 4.69 inches since Dec. 1. (That includes 1.71 inches this past weekend.) Normal through Dec. 12 is 1.27 inches and all of December averages 3.25.
This month’s storms help make up for a bone dry October and barely moist November. So far, Sacramento has received 5.75 inches since Oct. 1, the beginning of our “water year.” Normal to date: 3.98 inches.
That means Sacramento’s rain totals are currently at 144% of normal. Yay!
That’s good news for our reservoirs, too.
“The foothill and valley rains have begun to saturate our very dry soils with resulting runoff beginning to filter into the interior NorCal reservoirs,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office. “Current water storage at Shasta Lake at 31% of capacity, Oroville 29%, Folsom 28% and New Melones at 25%.”
That Folsom Lake percentage is not as bad as it sounds. It’s 69% of historical average for Dec. 12. Still, there’s room for a lot more.
And it illustrates just how dry we were in 2022, likely still the driest year on record in Sacramento history.
We’ll need many more rainy days to make up for our current water deficits – and right now, none is in the forecast. A ridge of high pressure is keeping our skies clear – and cold.
Instead of an umbrella, keep your frost cloths handy and be ready to protect tender plants.
According to the weather service, Sacramento can expect “widespread frost” and overnight lows right around freezing every night through at least Monday.
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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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