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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 19


Day Breaker, a floribunda rose, is like a ray of sunshine on a rainy Sacramento morning. Too much rain can damage roses.
(Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Unusually rainy week keeps temperatures way below normal



The month of May usually has more sizzle than drizzle in Sacramento, but not this year. Wednesday’s record 1.2 inches pushed May’s rain total to more than 1.5 inches. The whole month averages about 0.6 inches.

More rain is in the forecast. After this stormy weekend, showers are expected to linger through Wednesday, according to the
National Weather Service .

That’s also kept temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below normal – not good for tomatoes and other summer favorites that crave the heat. Instead of May’s typical 80 degrees, high temperatures are struggling to reach 60 or 70.

Plan and plant accordingly. The added moisture will help seeds get off to a good start. By next week, we’ll be back to normal with sunny dry days in the low 80s.

* Dump out any water that accumulates in saucers or other spots around the garden before those little puddles become mosquito breeding grounds.

* Rain also can accumulate inside roses and other large flowers, weighing them down and breaking their stems. Give them a gentle shake to get rid of that added water weight. Bring flowers in for bouquets.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth. Slugs and snails love all this dampness.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. Set out tomato, eggplant and pepper seedlings. 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. (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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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