Chilly forecast a reminder: It’s still winter
Blooming daffodils, narcissus and other bulbs may fool us into thinking spring is close. However, there's another round of cold weather ahead this week.
Sunny afternoons make it tempting to jump the calendar and start planting warm-season vegetables. But we’re about to get another chilly reminder that it’s still winter.
Monday’s forecast calls for 67 degrees and spring-like conditions, then our forecast changes dramatically. According to the National Weather Service, expect lower than normal temperatures later this week as well as some possible rain and even foothills snow.
“An unsettled weather pattern will bring cold temps, rain and snow to interior NorCal next week,” the NWS Sacramento office tweeted Friday.
A storm originating in Alaska looks like it’s drifting south and bringing some very cold temperatures. The weather service doubts it will be a big rainmaker in the Valley, but it could dust the Sierra with more snow including much lower elevations.
As of Saturday, the forecast calls for a “chance of rain showers and snow showers” on Thursday and Friday for the greater Sacramento area. The expected high in downtown Sacramento for Thursday is only 49 degrees followed by an overnight low of 30 in the wee hours of Friday morning. Normal for this week: Highs of 65 and lows of 44.
Keep a sweater and umbrella handy. Keep an eye on seedlings, new transplants and sensitive plants, too; they may need frost covering or other ways to warm up.
* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts. The exception: Japonica camellias. Feed camellias after they finish blooming in March.
* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.
* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.
* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.
* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.
* Transplant 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.
* Plant summer-flowering bulbs including cannas, calla lilies and gladiolus.
* Wait until soil warms a few degrees before direct planting seeds outdoors. This week, soil will be just too cold for most seeds to sprout.
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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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