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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 10



Foil strips in the trees can help deter birds in fruit trees. (Photos:
Kathy Morrison)
With cooler weather on the horizon, get to work



May weather can be full of surprises and extremes. This week is an example.

After days in the high 90s, we'll plunge back into the low 70s by Tuesday. We may even get a little wet.

A weak storm system is headed our way, says the National Weather Service. But don't expect much precipitation; the forecast predicts less than one-tenth of an inch of rain for Sacramento -- not enough to turn off the sprinklers. The rain is supposed to show up sometime late Monday or early Tuesday.

Although this is one of our drier months, a little rain is normal for May; we average about 0.7 inches for the month.
Deadhead roses for continued bloom.

The cloud cover that comes with this week's storm will noticeably cool down our high temperatures -- making for great gardening weather. Most of this upcoming week will see afternoons in the low 80s with a pleasant breeze.

What to do? Catch up with your garden's rapid changes.

* 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.
* Are birds picking your fruit off trees before it’s ripe? Try hanging strips of aluminum foil on tree branches. The shiny, dangling strips help deter birds from making themselves at home.
* 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.
* Add more mulch to conserve moisture and cut down on weeds. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle around trunks and main stems to avoid crown rot or other problems.
* It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. Time to set out tomato, eggplant and pepper transplants.
Baby basil plants! This is the perfect time to direct-seed basil as well as
melons, cucumbers, corn, pumpkins and summer squash.
* 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. (You also can transplant seedlings for many of the same flowers.)
* 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.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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