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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 24

Storms bring some good news; great planting weather ahead

Rose-pink geranium blossom
Transplant geraniums for color all summer long.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Those fast-moving storm systems that blew through Sacramento brought good news: April snow. That improved the Sierra snowpack and our overall water outlook.

“Recent rain and snow has brought some improvement to the Northern Sierra (8-Station Index), which is now 39.2 inches,” tweeted the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office on Saturday morning. “This is 83% of normal for this date in the water year.”

April showers also improved Sacramento’s own water totals. Since Oct. 1 (the start of our water year), Sacramento has received 16.39 inches; that’s 92% of average, 17.70 inches. At this point last year, our water year total was only 7.87 inches.

But overall, 2022 remains a very dry year. Sacramento’s rain total since Jan. 1 has been only 1.95 inches – most of that in March and April. Our April rain total so far (0.96 inches) is almost the same as our March total (0.94). Average for this same four-month period: 11.50 inches.

Several neighborhoods got an unwelcome surprise during these storms: Hail. Another reminder why late April and early May are traditionally tomato-planting time.

Speaking of which, this will be a wonderful week for spring gardening, says the weather service. Highs will be in the mid to upper 70s with overnight lows in the high 40s.

* Swing into action in the vegetable garden. Set out tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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