February looks normal (so far); chilly and a little damp
Established strawberries can be fertilized this month. It's also a good month to add new transplants. Kathy Morrison
A little cold, a little sun and a little damp; that’s early February in Sacramento.
After weeks of unusual weather, we seem to finally be settling into something that resembles “normal.” Historically, Sacramento averages February highs of 60 degrees and lows of 42. In non-drought years, February totals more than 3.5 inches of rain, too.
According to the National Weather Service, this week will be close to those averages with most days edging close to 60 degrees and overnight lows in the upper 30s and low 40s. As for rain, we will start Sunday with a storm (beginning Saturday in late afternoon), but that looks to be all for the week.
Make the most of sunny windows and get winter tasks done:
* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.
* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.
* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.
* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.
* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.
* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.
* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.
* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).
* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.
* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.
* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.
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For week of March 3:
* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.
* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.
* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.
* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.
* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.
* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.
* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.
* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.
* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.
* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.
* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.
* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.
* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.
* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.
* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.
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