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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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29
Bundle up and get work done!
* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.
* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.
* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.
* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.
* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.
* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.
* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.
* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.
* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.
* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.
* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.
* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.
* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.
* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.
* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.
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