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Warm weather speeds up garden clock

Daffodils are blooming sooner than usual because of warm weather and January showers.
Daffodils are blooming sooner than usual because of warm weather and January showers. hamezcua@sacbee.com

With temperatures in the 70s, recent springlike days feel more like April than February. And that’s a problem if you haven’t finished your winter garden chores.

Look around your landscape; most likely, your plants are running ahead of season. Flowering pears have already burst into bloom. Camellias are opening their flowers a month early. Daffodils and other spring bulbs are blooming, too.

Warm winter weather in January and early February sped up nature’s usual schedule. Many confused plants already think they’re well into spring and are behaving accordingly. That means we need to hurry up and finish pruning, spraying and other chores before fruit trees bloom and rose bushes bud out (if they haven’t already).

Some of the tasks that need to get done right now:

▪ Finish pruning roses. Remove old leaves left over from last season. Also, rake up debris around the bushes and apply new mulch.

▪ If needed, apply a final dormant spray to deciduous fruit trees before the flower buds swell. This is especially important with peaches and nectarines to fight leaf curl; use a spray that contains copper.

▪ Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong blast of water or insecticidal soap.

▪ Remove old or browned flowers from azaleas and camellias to reduce petal blight.

▪ Transplant or direct-seed snapdragon, candytuft, lily of the valley, larkspur, Shasta daisy, painted daisy and stock.

▪  In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichokes, strawberries and rhubarb.

▪ Transplant seedlings of lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and kale. Direct-seed radishes, beets, peas and chard.

▪  Plant bare-root roses, berries and fruit trees.

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