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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 Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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