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Dry weather may finally be coming soon

Sacramento posts impressive rain totals after a series of atmospheric rivers

This rain gauge is full, at 5 inches, after last week's storms.

This rain gauge is full, at 5 inches, after last week's storms. Debbie Arrington

If rain is what we wished for, we sure got it.

Since Christmas, a series of nine atmospheric rivers have soaked Northern California – with a 10th potentially on the way. And the rain totals have been impressive.

So far in January, Downtown Sacramento has recorded 7.14 inches; 2.31 inches fell since Friday. That follows 9.52 inches in December including a record 2.37 inches on New Year’s Eve.

Our winter rain total is more than double historic averages. In three months (including 1.16 inches in a subpar November), Sacramento received as much rain as it averages in an entire year: 17.82 inches. Normal for that period: 8.27 inches.

And more is on the way: The National Weather Service expects one more wave of storms to pass through on Wednesday. Whether it will rate as another atmospheric river is uncertain. The current NWS estimate is about one-quarter inch for Sacramento, but the storm system is still building up steam.

After “definite rain showers” on Wednesday, it looks like we’ll finally dry out. The weather service predicts six to nine days of dry weather starting Thursday.

However, that dry spell will be accompanied by cold, with overnight lows dipping close to freezing. Those cold nights are expected to bring patchy frost and morning ground fog. Afternoons will warm up only to the low 50s, but they will be sunny.

That means it’s time to tackle some winter garden chores:

* Survey your trees. Now is the time to take care of damage or stabilize trees that may have gotten wobbly in wet soil.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective – and we may finally have that.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new healthy growth in early spring.

* Be careful of saturated soil; it compacts easily. Don’t dig in muddy ground.

* Hold off on planting bare-root roses, trees and other plants until soil has a chance to dry out a little.

* Pull back mulch from around trees and shrubs so trunks have a chance to dry out, too. This will help curb crown rot.


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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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