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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 17

Rainy days will keep Sacramento gardens cool and damp

Artichoke on plant
Harvest artichokes when the buds are full but still tight. The small ones can be
harvested, too. Or let them flower for the bees to enjoy. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)


Will April showers bring May flowers? It won’t hurt. After a record dry first quarter of 2022, this spring rain certainly is needed.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect some precipitation almost every day this coming week. Our rainy forecast peaks on Thursday with more than a half inch of rain, predicts the weather service.

These spring storms are actually pretty normal. Typically, April averages 1.15 inches of rain in Sacramento. All these clouds will keep temperatures a little lower than average with afternoon highs in the 60s.

Meanwhile, nights will be cool, too, with lows on Sunday and Monday dipping down to about 42 degrees. If you already set out tomatoes and peppers, keep them warm with hot caps or other cover. But don’t expect much growth until later this month.

In between showers, take advantage of soft soil.

* Weed, weed, weed! Remove them before they go to seed. Whack them with a hoe, just below the soil surface, to cut off the crown.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. 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.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, fennel, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets and seed potatoes.

* 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.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings. Wait a week on tomatoes and peppers.

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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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