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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 9

Windy conditions can dry out transplants; be aware of fire danger

Droopy flowering plant in dry soil
Looks like this calibrachoa could use some water. The windy conditions are drying
plants out faster normal, so stay aware of garden irrigation needs. Mulch also
helps keep the soil from drying out. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Hear that wind? Feel that heat? Wildfire season has already arrived in the Central Valley, which means we all need to be extra vigilant when outdoors.

According to the National Weather Service, Mother’s Day weekend in Sacramento will see blustery winds blowing 10 to 15 miles per hour with gusts hitting 35 to 40 miles per hour. Those winds will continue through Monday night and are coupled with high temperatures right around 90 degrees. With humidity already low, that makes for extremely dry conditions.

A small spark can quickly turn into a blaze, be it in the wilderness or your own backyard. The weather service warns not to use power tools in tall grass or around rocks – anywhere that might cause a spark.

Meanwhile, that wind also sucks the moisture right out of tender transplants and new growth. Make sure to keep seedlings irrigated. Put down some extra mulch to help retain soil moisture.

Once the wind dies down, temperatures will continue to run about 10 degrees above normal with a steady string of 90s at least through Thursday. Get your gardening done in the morning.

What needs attention this week?

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Weed, weed, weed. Keep an eye out for rapidly growing bindweed and nutgrass. Don’t let grasses go to seed.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, 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.

* Harvest strawberries, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, peas and green onions.

* Transplant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, melons, cucumber and other summer veggies.

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

* In the flower garden, direct-seed or transplant sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers.

* Transplant summer annuals and perennials.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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