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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 8

Clouds and chance of rain will keep weather cool

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

* 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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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s 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.

* 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 bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* 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.

* 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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