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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 18

Toasty conditions to start warm (and dry) week


Small tomato plant in ground with red cage
That little tomato seedling will get a good boost from the warm weather the
next few days. But if your plants aren't in the ground yet, hold off until the temps drop back down -- the seedlings will be less stressed when they do go in. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)





Our spring weather will quickly feel like summer this weekend as a mild heat wave spikes temperatures.

According to the National Weather Service, several Central Valley locations will see their first 90-degree days of 2021 on Sunday and Monday. Fortunately, afternoon highs will cool down just as quickly. We’ll be comfortably back in the low 80s by Tuesday.

This warmth will stick around after dark, with overnight lows staying above 50. That’s warming the soil, too; good news for tomato gardeners!

Newly transplanted seedlings will be comfortable enough to get off to a good start. But wait until after Monday to put new plants in the ground. They’ll have less stress if they don’t have to endure 90-degree temperatures their first days in their new homes.

Remember to keep transplants and newly planted seeds watered. There’s still no rain in sight.

Also on this week’s to-do list:

* 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.

* Set out tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, all 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.

* Late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.


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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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