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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 18

Rain will dampen gardening plans, keep soil wet

It's wet and there's another month of winter ahead of us, yet tiny buds signaling next year's orange crop already are forming on a Washington navel orange tree.

It's wet and there's another month of winter ahead of us, yet tiny buds signaling next year's orange crop already are forming on a Washington navel orange tree. Kathy Morrison

February’s rainy streak continues as Northern California is in the midst of another set of atmospheric rivers.

The first storm arrived Saturday (Feb. 17) and will stick around through early Sunday morning, says the National Weather Service. Sacramento can expect about a half inch of rain as most of the moisture will likely end up as Sierra snow. Originating in the mid-Pacific, this is a warm storm; local temperatures will be relatively warm, too, with afternoon highs in the lows 60s and overnight lows in the 50s.

Watch out for falling trees and branches! This rain is expected to be accompanied by gusty winds, up to 45 mph in the Sacramento area. With so much wet soil, trees weakened by drought may be uprooted.

Wait, there’s more! A second stronger storm will quickly follow this first wave. It’s now expected to arrive Sunday afternoon and slowly creep over Northern California for three days. “Definite rain showers and thunderstorms,” reads the weather service forecast from 4 p.m. Sunday through 3 p.m. Tuesday.

There goes the long Presidents Day weekend.

The second storm will make Saturday’s rain seem like sprinkles. NWS estimates that downtown Sacramento will total 3.14 inches from these two storms by Wednesday night.

That moisture will keep soil very wet; to avoid compressing soil don't walk on it or work in the garden. Don’t dig until all this water has a chance to soak in.

When you do get outside, 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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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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