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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 3


There's still time to get your tomato seeds planted. They'll sprout in six to 10 days, on average. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Sacramento feels ready for an early spring



Welcome to an early spring! That’s the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil, the famous Pennsylvania groundhog, as well as locally grown perennials, shrubs and bulbs.

Signs of spring are sprouting everywhere in Sacramento, getting our gardening fingers itching to dig. We feel the urge to plant, and plenty of possibilities are now available in local nurseries.

Weather-wise, February is usually among Sacramento’s rainiest months, averaging about 3.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service. In this wet first weekend, we already have a good start on that total.

Expect temperatures to remain cool; February highs average 60 degrees in Sacramento with overnight lows averaging 42. Any threat of frost is minimal. That means cool-weather plants will still be comfortable, but wait on setting out tomatoes and peppers.

When the sun comes out, make the most of that window of opportunity and get to work:

* This month, you can transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

Transplant kale now for spring salads. (Photo: Debbie
Arrington)
* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots. Transplant cabbage and its close cousins -- broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts -- as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

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

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions. Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets. The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

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

* Annuals are showing up in nurseries, but wait until the weather warms up a bit before planting summer varieties. Instead, set out flowering perennials such as columbine and delphinium.

* Plant summer-flowering bulbs including cannas, calla lilies and gladiolus.

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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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