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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 22

Sacramento could see triple digits this week, but relief may be on its way

Yellow roses
These appropriately named Sun Flare roses could use a little deadheading to keep
them blooming. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Suddenly, Sacramento is feeling mighty toasty. We’re experiencing a spring heat wave – and a challenge to our recent transplants.

“Temperatures will warm up this weekend into early next week,” tweeted the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service on Saturday morning. “Valley locations could see 100 degrees as early as Tuesday. Some relief from the heat is expected at the end of next week.”

Windy conditions were expected to cool temperatures into the high 80s or low 90s for Saturday and Sunday. Gusts on Monday could reach 20 to 25 mph, according to the weather service.

When the wind stops, so does that natural air conditioning. Forecasts for Tuesday and Wednesday hover right around triple digits. Average for mid May in Sacramento: 80 degrees.

Meanwhile, overnight lows will stay warm, over 60 degrees; that’s also about 10 degrees above normal. That will make for warm mornings; get your outdoor activities – and watering – done early.

Currently, the weather service predicts a cooldown on Memorial Day weekend with afternoon temperatures back in the 80s. Until then, concentrate on keeping your garden irrigated and comfortable.

* Don’t fertilize this week. High heat can stress new growth.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on seedlings, shoots and buds.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Are birds picking your fruit from trees before it’s ripe? Try hanging strips of aluminum foil on tree branches. The shiny, dangling strips help deter birds from making themselves at home.

Wilty zinnia transplant
Oh, sad zinnia! Keep seedlings watered in
this heat to get them established.

* As spring-flowering shrubs finish blooming, give them a little pruning to shape them, removing old and dead wood. Lightly trim azaleas, fuchsias and marguerites for bushier plants.

* Run the sprinklers early in the day – before 8 a.m. if possible – to conserve water and minimize plant diseases.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas, fava beans and green onions.

* Delay planting any new transplants or seeds until later in the week when temperatures cool down. Keep seed beds evenly moist.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.



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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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