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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 4

More heavy rain is on the way; watch out for gusty winds

Nemesias are easy-care annuals that come in a variety of colors. Plant them this month (during a break from the rains) for color through spring.

Nemesias are easy-care annuals that come in a variety of colors. Plant them this month (during a break from the rains) for color through spring. Kathy Morrison

Keep your umbrella handy – and tie down the patio furniture. We’re in for some wild winter weather.

A new, stronger storm system is expected to arrive in Sacramento late Saturday night or early Sunday.

According to the National Weather Service, heavy rain is expected in the Sacramento Valley and Sierra snow as low as the 3,000-foot elevation. The storm also brings strong gusty winds, especially south of Interstate 80.

Thunderstorms and showers will continue through Wednesday before clearing later in the week, says the weather service. This new storm could dump as much as 2.5 inches on Sacramento, says the weather service. February in Sacramento averages 3.6 inches.

On track for a “normal” water year, Sacramento already received a good share of rain this week including 0.42 inches on Jan. 31. That brought January’s rain total to 3.66 inches – just above average for that month.

While it’s raining, stay dry indoors and plan for sunny gardening days to come. Spring will be here before you know it.

* Avoid walking on or digging in soggy soil; wet ground compacts easily, squeezing out vital air spaces.

* Take some time to review your plans for spring and summer planting. Sort your seed packets and shop for more as needed. Most seeds retain their vitality for at least three years.

* When the rain takes a break, finish winter chores. Prune, prune, prune! Your roses are already coming out of dormancy (or may have never stopped blooming). Strip off old foliage and clean up debris under bushes.

* Clean up fallen branches and other debris knocked down by the storm. Make sure gutters are kept clear.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* During rainy weather, turn off the sprinklers. After a good soaking from winter storms, lawns and other landscaping can go at least a week without sprinklers.

* Take advantage of soft (not soggy) soil after the storm. Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

* Spring annuals are showing up in nurseries, but wait until the weather warms up a bit before planting. Instead, set out flowering perennials such as columbine and delphinium.

* Plant summer-flowering bulbs including cannas, calla lilies and gladiolus.


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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