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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 11

Sunny conditions (almost) perfect for planting summer garden

Yellow, gold, orange and rust marigolds
Marigolds can be planted from seed or as transplants to brighten the summer
garden. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Ready, set, plant! Several days in the low 80s and high 70s make this week almost ideal for seeding a summer vegetable garden. The only drawback? Breezy conditions can dry out soil quickly – and there’s still no rain in our forecast.

According to the National Weather Service, our week will start out with above-average temperatures and afternoon highs topping out around 82 degrees. Clear conditions will allow overnight temperatures to dip back down into the 40s. But instead of chilly low 40s, those nighttime lows will hover just below 50 degrees.

Soil is warming along with the air, so start transplanting heat-loving summer veggies, too. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash can be set out now, but don’t expect them to really take off until Sacramento nights stay above 50 to 55 degrees. Remember to keep those new transplants and seedbeds irrigated.

There are plenty of other tasks that need attention now, too:

* Weed, weed, weed! Unwanted plants are growing fast. Tackle them before they go to seed.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* April 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.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, all melons, okra, 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, marigolds and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers.

* 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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