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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 Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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