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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 31


Basil is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

May ends on a cool (and maybe soggy) note


May goes out with more unexpected twists -- rain and a 25-degree dip in high temperatures.
After record heat in midweek, Sacramento is back in the 70s and expected to get wet. But this change is only temporary.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento could receive as much as a half inch of rain from this weekend storm system with the possibility of thunderstorms and maybe hail in the foothills. Remember to turn off the sprinklers.

This cool down feels like a welcome respite after 103-degree days. Sunday and Monday are both expected to be in the low 80s before we jump up 10 degrees by Tuesday. The first week of June will see several days in the 90s. That's hot for early June, which averages 87 degrees in Sacramento.

In other words, it will soon feel like summer again.

Make the most of these cooler days and enjoy your outdoor spaces:

*Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden. Tomatoes and squash enjoy the heat. Deep-water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.
* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week (about 5 gallons per plant total for the week), but don't let them dry out completely between drinks. That can encourage blossom-end rot.
* 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.
* 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. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.
* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.
* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes.
* From seed, plant beans, corn, melons, pumpkins, radishes, squash and sunflowers.
* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.
* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.
* Transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias,  gazanias, rudbeckia, salvia  and verbena.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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