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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 10

If you have established strawberry plants, you can fertilize them now. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)
Chilly, wet weather makes for moist conditions

Unusually chilly (and wet) weather has made February gardening feel frosty. Some foothill gardeners even saw snow.

Temperatures are tracking about 10 degrees below normal in the Sacramento area, which usually sees plenty of 60s this time of year. Don’t even think about setting out tomatoes or other summer vegetables; it’s just too cold.

That big chill stalls growth for a lot of plants. Many will just sit there and do nothing until the sun comes back out and starts warming the soil.

On the positive side, all that rain has made the ground moist and easy to work (as well as kept everything hydrated).

Make the most of breaks in the rain to tackle these tasks:

* Weed, weed, weed! Grasses are spouting all over and growing rapidly. So is bindweed and nutsedge. Dig them out while they’re young.

* Finish pruning roses, perennials and crape myrtles.

Asparagus poking up means spring's on the way. Feed asparagus plants now.
* Pick a bouquet of daffodils or other spring bulbs to enjoy indoors. (Rain just knocks them over.)

* 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.

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

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and lettuce (both loose leaf and head).
Kale can still be transplanted.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions. Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets.

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

* Transplant or direct seed snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.


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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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