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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of March 19

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.

This happy little rose bush is putting out a lot of new growth. Be sure to feed roses now and watch out for aphids. Kathy Morrison

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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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* 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 needs nutrients. Fertilize 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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