Expect a soggy end to winter and start of spring
This happy little rose bush is putting out a lot of new growth. Be sure to feed roses now and watch out for aphids.
Appropriately, winter will end on a wet note – and spring will start a little soggy, too.
According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect rain on Sunday, the last day of winter. Those showers will linger into Monday, the first day of spring.
“Definite rain showers” are in Sunday’s forecast, starting at 7 a.m., says the weather service.
Most of this storm’s moisture is likely headed for the Sierra, with heavy snow expected in the passes. Meanwhile in Sacramento, we’ll get between one-fourth and one-half inch of rain, the forecast says.
Keep those umbrellas handy. According to the weather service, more rain is expected Tuesday through Friday with off and on showers.
These storm clouds will really cool down our temperatures. After enjoying warm springlike temperatures on Saturday, we’ll be back in the low 50s by Tuesday with a high of 52 predicted. Overnight lows will be chilly, too, plunging to 41 degrees (or colder) on Thursday and Friday.
Normal for this week of March: Highs of 68 degrees and lows of 46.
All this cold and wet will keep our soil cooler longer – not good for tomatoes. According to UC Davis, local soil temperatures are still in the 51 to 53 degree range, more than 10 degrees colder than what tomatoes need to start growing.
Hold off on putting any summer veggies in the ground at least two more weeks. If you can’t sit comfortably on bare ground in your underwear, it’s too cold to transplant tomatoes.
There’s still plenty to do between showers:
* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.
* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.
* 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 fight blossom blight.
* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.
* 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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For week of Dec. 3:
Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!
* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.
* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.
* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.
* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.
* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.
* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.
* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.
* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.
* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.
* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.
* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.
* Plant garlic and onions.
* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.
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