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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of June 12

Clouds to provide some relief from triple-digit heat

Unripe grapes on vine
Growing grapes? Thin them now for bigger, better clusters later. (Photo:
Kathy Morrison)

Clouds are coming to our rescue – and maybe a little rain, too!

After two days of excessive heat, some possible showers and the cloud cover that comes with them are expected to cool Sacramento down several degrees.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento has a 30% chance of rain Sunday morning, followed by breezy conditions through Monday. Instead of triple-digit afternoons, our highs will hover in the mid 80s.

Once the breeze dies down, the temperatures will begin to climb again, peaking just below 100 on Wednesday. Then, another dip back into the 80s is expected by next weekend, says the weather service.

In case you’re wondering, the hottest June day in Sacramento history: 115 degrees. So, a mix of 80s and 90s isn’t so bad.

Expect more odd behavior from plants during these yo-yo temperatures. The important thing is to keep soil from drying out completely; mulch works wonders for retaining moisture and keeping roots comfortable. To avoid evaporation, water early in the morning.

Watch out for heat stress – both for you and your pets and plants. When temperatures climb, retreat inside.

* 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. Remember to water first.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

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

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

*Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden, with tomatoes and squash enjoying the heat. Deep-water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don’t let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes. There’s still time to plant radishes, sunflowers, melons, pumpkins and squash from seed.

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

* Transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

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

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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