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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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