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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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