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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 2


Along with all the other chores for the week, remember to fertilize strawberry plants. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

February can be a busy gardening month




Welcome to a new – and busy – garden month! February is when Sacramento gardening starts to really kick into gear – indoors and out.

Inside, tomato and pepper lovers are sprouting seeds to transplant in March and April. Outdoors, warming weather prompts rapid growth – and early flowers.

Weather wise, be ready for almost anything. Historically, Sacramento averages high temperatures of 60 degrees, but spikes into the 70s are not uncommon. Likewise, February lows average 42 degrees but can still flirt with freezing. According to the National Weather Service, a cold front will dip overnight lows into the mid-30s this week. Be ready for a little frost.

Rain totals for February average just above 3.5 inches, but little moisture is in the forecast – so far.

Enjoy dry days by getting things done:

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer.

* Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

Candytuft is among the flowers that can be transplanted now.
* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* Spring annuals are showing up in nurseries, but wait until the weather warms up a bit before planting. Instead, set out flowering perennials such as columbine and delphinium.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins -- broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts -- as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

* Plant summer-flowering bulbs including cannas, calla lilies and gladiolus.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* 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.

* 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.

* 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.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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