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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* 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 help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* 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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