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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 March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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