Clouds and chance of rain will keep weather cool
Shirley poppy buds look almost alien before they bloom. They are annuals but the flowers will reseed every year. See below for a poppy in bloom. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)
Just when it looked like we were plunging right into summer, Mother Nature throws us a curve – and the possibility of rain.
Showers are in the Northern California forecast Sunday through Tuesday, says the National Weather Service. Unfortunately, it looks like that rain will stay north of Sacramento. While we won’t get much (if any) precipitation, we will see plenty of clouds and cooler temperatures. The forecast calls for afternoons in the mid 60s to low 70s – well below normal. Our average high for early May: 80 degrees.
The fringes of this storm system also could create very windy conditions, particularly Sunday and Monday. Tie anything down that could blow away.
In the garden, make the most of cooler conditions – and get to work:
* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. Time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.
* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.
* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.
* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters. Or transplant seedlings for many of the same flowers.
* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.
* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.
* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.
* Feed summer flowering annuals and perennials with a balanced fertilizer.
* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering shrubs.
Shirley poppies come in many shades of pink and
red, as well as white, purple, lavender and peach.
* Put your veggie garden on a regular diet. Set up a monthly feeding program, and keep track on your calendar. Make sure to water your garden before applying any fertilizer to prevent “burning” your plants.
* 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.
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For week of Dec. 10:
Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!
* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.
* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.
* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.
* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.
* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.
* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.
* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.
* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.
* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.
* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.
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