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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 26

Squash seedlings will grow rapidly once the weather warms up. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

After so much rain, summer gardening hits high gear

How will your garden respond to all that rain?

Sacramento’s wettest May on record gave everything a thorough and deep watering. Most of the area received 3-plus inches, more than four times normal for the month.

All that extra (free) irrigation got most summer transplants off to an especially strong start. Meanwhile, cool weather – 10 degrees or more below normal temperatures – prolonged the season for many early spring vegetables such as snap peas and lettuce.

Your peppers and melons may have just been sitting there, but soon they’ll be kicking into high gear. Temperatures in the 80s are forecast by mid-week, and warmer summer weather patterns are on the way.

Tomato transplants already are growing rapidly and setting their first fruit. That may mean ripe tomatoes by July 4.

* Weed! Weed! Weed! That wet weather prompted millions of dormant weed seeds to sprout, and now those plants are growing rapidly. Pull or whack them while they’re young, and definitely before they set seed.

* It’s not too late to plant a summer garden including transplants of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Choose quick-maturing varieties.

Still plenty of time to plant melon seeds -- they'll grow rapidly
in more typical late spring temperatures.
* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters. For faster flowers, transplant seedlings.

* Plant dahlia tubers.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and
perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* 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.

* Dead-head roses, pruning off spent flowers. The bush will re-bloom in six to eight weeks.


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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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