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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 17

Depending on how ripe they are and how intense the rain is, cherries may be damaged in the coming rainstorm. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Expect a soggy break in warm spring weather

Be ready for anything. That's got to be the motto for 2020 and applies (among many things) to our May weather.

For May 16-18, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning with snow in the passes. Here in the Valley, we're about to get soaked.

From Saturday night to Tuesday evening, Sacramento is expected to receive between 1/2 and 1 inch of rain. The foothills and areas north of Sacramento will be wetter; the forecast for Grass Valley is 2 to 3 inches. Thunderstorms and windy conditions will be part of this wild weather mix, too.
Don't forget to turn off the sprinklers.

Sacramento's average monthly rainfall for May is less than 3/4 inch; we may get all of that in this one storm. After this cold front heads east, temperatures will return to the lows 80s -- normal for mid-May.

Put off transplanting seedlings until after the storm. They could be damaged by too much wind and rain while also coping with root shock.

Add some coneflowers to the garden for color -- and for beneficial insects
and pollinators.
Meanwhile, concentrate on maintenance and a little garden TLC.
* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.
* Also watch out for fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and rust. Remove and dispose of infected leaves.
* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.
* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.
* As spring-flowering shrubs finish blooming, give them a little pruning to shape them, removing old and dead wood. Lightly trim azaleas, fuchsias and marguerites for bushier plants.
* After the storm, there will still be time to plant tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings.
* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.
* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.
* Keep an eye on fast-developing fruit. Cherries may be damaged by this storm system.
* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.
* Plant dahlia tubers.
* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

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

* 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 eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* 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.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* 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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