Spring-like days finally arrive (but still too cold for happy tomatoes)
Don't forget to enjoy the early spring bloomers -- such as these summer snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) -- before they fade in warmer weather. Trim spent flowers but not leaves of any spring bulbs. Kathy Morrison
The Easter Bunny is bringing us some sunshine. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect a sunny Easter Sunday – and Monday – with temperatures in the high 70s.
“The warming trend begins today, despite some cloud cover,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Saturday morning. “Even warmer temperatures are forecast for Sunday and Monday when many locations will see their warmest day of the year (so far).”
The forecast calls for 78 degrees on Monday – 16 degrees warmer than Friday, which also saw 0.15 inches of rain. Normal for this week of April: 72 degrees.
Now for the real question: Is it warm enough to plant tomatoes? Yes – and no. Those afternoons in the 70s are mighty tempting, but the soil is still cold.
Not helping those early tomatoes, Sacramento will be right back down in the low 60s on Wednesday with a forecast high of 64, and overnight lows will continue to linger in the low 40s every night but Monday and Tuesday.
The good news: Many more warm days are coming soon, says the weather service. Next weekend’s forecast also calls for highs in the 70s. The later you wait this month, the happier your tomato transplants will be.
If you must plant tomatoes this week, give them some extra protection and warmth such as heat caps and mulch.
Elsewhere in the garden:
* 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 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.
* 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.
* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, 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 summer-blooming perennials, gladiolus and dahlia tubers.
* Transplant lettuce and kale seedlings.
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For week of Feb. 18:
It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:
* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.
* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.
* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.
* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.
* Dump excess water out of pots.
* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.
* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.
* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.
* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.
* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.
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