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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 26

February ends on a wet and windy note

Since the weather's not conducive to being outdoors for long, it's a great time to get some (or more) tomato seeds started.

Since the weather's not conducive to being outdoors for long, it's a great time to get some (or more) tomato seeds started.

Kathy Morrison

February is going out with a soggy roar.

Another wave of wintery weather is coming our way, pushed by strong winds.

According to the National Weather Service, expect some huge gusts on Monday – and maybe more fallen trees.

“Gusty winds will accompany the next storms tomorrow (through) Tuesday, but the strongest winds will be Monday,” the Sacramento NWS office tweeted Saturday. “Valley gusts up to 30-50 mph and mountain gusts up to 60-70 mph could cause downed trees and branches, localized power outages and difficult driving conditions.”

It won’t do much for gardeners, either – or our urban forest. Trees tend to lose their stability in soggy soil. Evergreens already wobbly after January’s storms could lose their roothold and topple over. Stay away from leaning trees or shrubs.

Besides the wind, more rain is in Sacramento’s forecast – which is a good thing. Downtown received almost an inch on Friday, bringing our total for February to 1.27 inches, but that’s still 2 inches below average. Normal for February: 3.59 inches.

After a drizzly Saturday, Sunday is expected to be wet with up to a half inch in Sacramento, says the weather service. Monday will see another half inch (or more) followed by additional showers on Tuesday.

Our yo-yo temperature pattern continues, too. The high on President’s Day Monday (Feb. 20) was 71 degrees, a record for that date; on Friday, it was 48. Sacramento also hit 71 on Feb. 12, with several days below normal in between those two peaks.

Our days this week will continue to be chilly – with highs mostly under 50 degrees. When the clouds finally clear midweek, the frost returns. The low in the wee hours of Thursday morning is expected to be 30 degrees with widespread frost.

All this cold and damp will put the brakes on our spring roll out. Protect tender transplants. Put off planting seed or setting out seedlings until soil warms.

* After this round of storms, feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed camellias after they bloom.

* Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* 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.

* It’s not too late to browse seed catalogs or websites and order for spring planting.

* Pot-up bareroot roses, berries, asparagus, rhubarb or other bareroot plants. The soil is too cold for good root development. Instead, soak bareroot plants overnight, then plant them in potting soil in black plastic pots lined with newsprint. In April or May, transplant them – rootball and all – into the garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of May 28:

Make the most of these cooler temperatures. Get to work!

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Put your veggie garden on a regular diet. Set up a monthly fertilization program, and keep track on your calendar. Make sure to water your garden before applying any fertilizer to prevent “burning” your plants.

* As spring-flowering shrubs finish blooming, give them a little pruning to shape them, removing old and dead wood. Lightly trim azaleas, fuchsias and marguerites for bushier plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to maintain soil moisture and cut down on weeds. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle around tree or shrub trunks to avoid crown rot or other problems.

* Plant, plant, plant! Set out tomato transplants along with peppers, eggplants, squash and melons.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed or transplant sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant summer color such as petunias and marigolds.

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