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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of June 7

Tomato plants are flowering, with harvests yet ahead. Tomatoes and other summer vegetables still can be planted now; look for fast-developing varieties. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Great planting weather as mild temperatures return

Just like gardening, all weather is local. The greater Sacramento area saw several examples during recent storm forecasts; some neighborhoods received cloudbursts, others hardly a drop.

Likewise, thunderstorms are expected to move through Northern California this weekend, primarily impacting the foothills and Sierra. In the Valley, we'll mostly feel the bluster of winds pushing that weather system east.

Meanwhile, high temperatures dropped 30 degrees from last week's triple-digit highs. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will enjoy two days in the mid 70s before the mercury heats up again midweek. Even then, afternoons should stay in the endurable low 90s -- not blazing 100s. By Friday, we slip back into the low 80s -- a very nice beginning to June.

Make the most of these mild weather conditions. If you want to add to (or start) your summer garden, do it now.

* From seed, plant beans, corn, melons, pumpkins, radishes, squash and sunflowers.
* Plant basil and other annual herbs.
* It's not too late to transplant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash and other summer favorites. Look for fast- developing varieties.
* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.
* Transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.
* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.
* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.
* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.
* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.
* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.
* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes.


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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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