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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 March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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