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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 Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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