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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 Feb. 5

Make the most of sunny days and get winter tasks done:

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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