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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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