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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 25

Soggy Sunday followed by plenty of tomato-planting weather

Orange blossoms and bee
Orange blossoms are a good reminder to fertilize citrus trees now to help set fruit. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)



After record heat a week ago, April wraps up with a rapid cooldown – and a splash.

The high temperatures this weekend will be about 30 degrees lower than last Sunday, when Sacramento saw a record high of 91. Instead, this Sunday will be soggy – our first measurable rain since early March.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect about a quarter-inch of rain Sunday – and that’s it for April. On average, Sacramento receives about 1.2 inches for this month.

Highs will be under 60 degrees Sunday, before quickly bouncing back into the 80s by Wednesday. We may see 90 degrees again Friday.

Meanwhile, overnight and soil temperatures have warmed enough to plant summer vegetables, just in time for Sacramento’s unofficial Tomato Planting Day – April 28.

* This week is your last chance to plant most summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* April also is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* 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.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Transplant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and summer squash.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, all melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets. Pumpkins can be planted starting this next weekend.

* 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.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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