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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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