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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 23

Forecast calls for perfect weather (especially for tomatoes)

Rust red and gold daisy-like flowers
Coreopsis add color to the garden all summer. In our climate the plants are perennials. (Photos by Kathy Morrison)



Watch for rapid growth; this weather will bring out the best in your recent transplants and seedlings. Tomatoes may appear to be sprouting inches overnight. (They are!)

Sacramento will see just about perfect growing conditions this week, according to the National Weather Service. Afternoons will slowly warm into the 80s, with plenty of bright daylight in the comfortable 70s. Skies will be clear and conditions mildly breezy.

Warm soil makes for rapid root growth. Overnight lows will stay above 50 degrees, helping to keep the ground comfortable for baby plants.

These warm but mild conditions are expected to last at least another seven days. Our next 90-degree day could be Memorial Day.

What about rain? Thunderstorms still are possible this weekend in the foothills and Sierra, says the weather service. But Sacramento likely will remain dry.

Time to show your garden some love:

* Add mulch to the garden to save water and keep roots comfortable. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. Leave about a 6-inch-to-1-foot circle around tree trunks and shrub crowns to avoid crown rot.

* Deep-water shrubs, trees and perennials as well as transplants to encourage strong, deep roots.

* 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.

Pale yellow roses
Deadhead roses when they're finished blooming.

* 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. Prune lilacs.

* It’s not too late to transplant tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers, verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and other summer color.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s 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.

* 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.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy 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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