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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For week of Sept. 24:
This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?
* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.
* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.
* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.
* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.
* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.
* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.
* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.
* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.
* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.
* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.
* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.
* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.
* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.
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