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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 16

Cooler conditions are perfect for planting

Pepper plant with flower buds
It's always exciting to see flowers on vegetable plants, but this pepper was just planted, so it's better to remove the early flowers and let the plant concentrate
its energy on establishing its roots. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)



What a difference a few clouds make!

This weekend, a Sierra-bound storm system significantly cooled high temperatures in the greater Sacramento area. The foothills may see thunderstorms, but most of that moisture will miss the valley.

The good news: Those cloudy, breezy conditions dropped high temperatures 15 degrees. And according to the National Weather Service, those lower temperatures will stick around. Instead of the mid 90s, afternoon highs will barely nudge 80 – which is the average high for mid-May in Sacramento. Our days will be mostly sunny in the 70s all week, with overnight lows staying comfortably in the 50s.

So, plant something! These are near-perfect conditions for transplanting tomatoes and other summer veggies as well as annuals or perennials. Our May weather won’t get any better than this.

* 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.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters. Or transplant seedlings for many of the same flowers.

* Plant dahlia tubers.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, 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.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* 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.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* 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, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, 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. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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