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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 March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

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

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

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

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

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

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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