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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of June 5

After weekend showers, triple-digit days are coming soon

Pick blueberries now before heat — or birds — get to them. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)



Did you feel a sprinkle? Or maybe measurable precipitation?

June’s first weekend should includ a splash of summer rain with “likely” showers on Sunday, says the
National Weather Service . Before and after any raindrops, cloudy skies are keeping temperatures comfortably cool. Sacramento’s afternoon highs for both days are forecast in the high 70s.

But things are about to change – again, warns the weather service.

“Enjoy the cooler temperatures this weekend because things are going to heat up next week!” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office. “Widespread triple digits in the Valley are expected by Friday.”

How hot? Right now, the NWS is predicting 105 degrees for Sacramento on Friday. By Thursday, nights will be warm, too, staying above 70 degrees – warmer than most of Sunday. Normal for June in Sacramento: Highs of 87 degrees and lows of 56.

What does this mean for your garden? In between drizzle, tackle chores Sunday and Monday before temperatures start to climb.

By Thursday, triple-digit days are possible. Adds the weather service, “Stay hydrated and take extra precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses. Visit http://weather.gov/safety/heat to learn more!”

* Keep your garden hydrated, too. Water early in the morning. Cycle and soak to avoid runoff. Deep water trees and shrubs.

* 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.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* 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.

* 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. Always water before adding fertlizer.

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

* Pick blueberries and strawberries as they ripen — and before those triple-digit days.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant basil, corn, melons, pumpkins, radishes, squash and sunflowers.

* 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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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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