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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 14

Hold off on summer veggies; more cool days to come

Reddish green chard in sixpacks
Chard is a good choice for transplanting or seeding in the late winter garden. The leaves can be picked at any stage for salads, stir fries and other dishes. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)



With warm afternoons and some refreshing rain, our gardens got a big taste of spring. But don’t plant for summer yet. Another cooldown is on its way.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect a week of cloudy weather with chances of showers on Monday and Thursday. Cloudy skies will keep daytime temperatures cool (mostly low 60s) and nights relatively warm with overnight lows staying in the 40s.

That combination will keep lettuce, cabbage, spinach and other cool-season veggies from bolting (sprouting flower shoots) a little while longer. Instead, there's an opportunity to plant more.

Meanwhile, postpone planting tomatoes and peppers until the weather and soil stay consistently warm.

What to do now?

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses, even if they’ve begun to sprout new growth.

* Plant a flower garden. Transplant or direct-seed snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers.

* Plant bare-root strawberry, asparagus and rhubarb.

* Plant globe artichokes from root division.

* Transplant one more round of fast-growing cool-season veggies such as loose-leaf lettuce.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips. Choose fast-growing varieties.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

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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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