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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 19

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.

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. Kathy Morrison

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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Garden Checklist for week of April 21

This week there’s plenty to keep gardeners busy. With no rain in the immediate forecast, remember to irrigate any new transplants.

* Weed, weed, weed! Get them before they flower and go to seed.

* 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 is really hungry. Feed 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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