New month starts with warm days and good planting weather
Clip off spent roses for continued bloom this spring. This is Pinkerbelle, a hybrid tea. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
Those April showers will help May flowers. You’ll see the proof very soon.
Recent precipitation refreshed our gardens, but it was only a sip. Keep an eye on your soil moisture as temperatures spike back up. New seedlings could easily wilt.
According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento could see 90 degrees on Wednesday. Before and after that peak, our afternoon highs should be in the low 80s, just above average. Normal for the first week of May: 80 degrees.
Our “rainy” season is just about over; May averages 0.68 inches of rain. (If that materializes, we’ll take it.) In the meantime, keep new transplants watered. Slow and deep irrigation will encourage strong roots and better drought resistance during dry times ahead.
After planting, apply a layer of organic mulch (leaves, bark, straw, etc.) to help retain moisture.
* Plant, plant, plant! May is 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. (You also can 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 bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.
* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.
* 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.
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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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