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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of March 26

Expect more rain, but also some sunny gardening breaks

Freesias bloom in the sunshine. There's some rain in the next week's forecast, but the weather should be good for gardening most days.

Freesias bloom in the sunshine. There's some rain in the next week's forecast, but the weather should be good for gardening most days.

Kathy Morrison

Our rainy spring continues with more precipitation in the Sacramento forecast. According to the National Weather Service, March will wind up pretty much like it began – wet.

“Widespread moderate precipitation returns Monday PM – Wednesday,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Saturday. “Heaviest precipitation is expected on Tuesday. Be prepared for slick roads, longer than normal commute, & possible ponding of water on roadways. Leave yourself extra time to travel!”

The weather service says Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. So far this March, Sacramento has received 4.19 inches of rain, about 2 inches more than average.

Chilly temperatures will accompany those showers. The weather service issued a frost advisory for much of the Sacramento area for early Sunday morning; the anticipated low for Sacramento in the wee hours before dawn – 37 degrees. More frost danger is expected Monday with a low of 33 between 5 and 8 a.m.

Although not quite below freezing, those lows can still do damage to tender spring growth. And it’s awfully late to be this chilly; Sacramento’s historic frost date (the last day to expect frost danger) was Friday, March 24. Mother Nature isn’t listening; the weather service warns to expect “widespread frost before 8 a.m.” Sunday and Monday.

Sunny conditions return on Thursday, but temperatures will stay about 10 degrees (or more) below normal all week. Expected highs will hover around 60 degrees with lows dipping into the low 40s. Normal for Sacramento this week: highs of 71 and lows of 46.

So, tomato transplants will have to stay on hold a little longer. Meanwhile, concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* 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 help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* 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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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