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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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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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