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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of March 5

March arrives with more cold, damp weather

Winter showers bring ... weeds. Get them out while they're small!

Winter showers bring ... weeds. Get them out while they're small! Kathy Morrison

March can be blustery (as we’ve already seen this month) and unpredictable. When gardening, plan accordingly; be ready for spikes in temperature, both up and down.

Be patient, too. Some afternoons may feel like spring, but the soil is still mighty cold – bad for root development. And that soil is unlikely to warm up much this week.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will stay rainy through Wednesday. Forecast highs are 52 or 53 degrees every day this week but Thursday when we “warm” to 55. (The forecast low early Thursday morning: 32 degrees.) Friday’s forecast: More rain and 53 degrees.

That’s more than 10 degrees below average. Normal for this week in Sacramento: High of 66 degrees and low of 44.

March also can see rapid warm-ups. In March 2022, we enjoyed six consecutive days of 80-degree weather peaking at a record 86 on March 26. (That was just three weeks after Sacramento set a record low of 35 on March 6.) Spring will be here for real before you know it.

* No matter how tempting, don’t transplant tomatoes outdoors yet. If seedlings need more room, transplant them into 1-gallon pots lined with newspaper; that will help warm their growing roots.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear. Feed roses with a balanced fertilizer (such as 8-8-8, the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium available in that product).

* 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 of liquid soap – not detergent – to 1 quart of 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.

* Start preparing vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Pick up browned camellias and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce, collards and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Before the mercury starts inching upward, this is your last chance to plant such annuals as pansies, violas and primroses.


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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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