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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 June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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