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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 2

Warm weather heats soil, too; plant those tomatoes!

young tomato plant surrounded by straw mulch
With this stretch of above-normal temperatures, tomato plants and other summer
vegetables will take off. Mulch helps keep the soil from drying out too fast. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)



Tomato weather is here! May starts out feeling like summer. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect at least three days in the low 90s before a welcome cool down to 78 degrees Friday.

What’s normal for May? Sacramento averages highs of 80 degrees and lows of 51 this month.

Our streak of above-normal temperatures continues after dark, too. Overnight lows are solidly in the 50s, edging up to 60 degrees by midweek. Those evening temperatures will steadily warm soil – ideal for planting summer seedlings.

So, get those tomato transplants in the ground along with peppers, eggplants, squash, cucumbers and other heat-loving favorites.

* 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.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

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

* Plant dahlia tubers.

* Transplant petunias and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, 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 Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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