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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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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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