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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 5



Yellow zucchini plant
Keep an eye on zucchini; it grows rapidly in hot weather. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Make most of cool mornings; keep garden hydrated




Happy Independence Day weekend! Celebrate with some garden time.

Plan on getting chores done early. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will see a steady string of warm dry days with temperatures topping out in the mid to high 90s.

Fortunately, overnight lows cool down to below 60, setting up pleasant conditions each morning. We shouldn't see 80 degrees until after 11 a.m. each day.

Those conditions are slightly above normal for July in Sacramento; this month averages highs of 92 and lows of 59. Don't expect any rain until August -- or most likely later. July averages 0.00 inches of precipitation.

This week, make the most of those mornings:

Cat in vegetable bed
Elsie the tabby cat provides a little extra mulch -- temporarily
-- to a bed of newly seeded winter squash.
* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Water, then fertilize vegetables and blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs to give them a boost. Feeding flowering plants every other week will extend their bloom.

* 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.

* 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.

* Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* From seed, plant bush beans, corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers.

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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* 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.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

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

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

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

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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