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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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