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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 28

Sunshine follows April showers for a warm end to month

Profusion zinnias can be planted now for bright color all summer.

Profusion zinnias can be planted now for bright color all summer. Kathy Morrison

Sun, wind, rain, lightning, even hail; Sacramento saw all sorts of whiplash weather in a single day.

After Friday’s fast-moving thunderstorms, Sacramento ends April on a calm and sunny note. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect highs from 77 to 80 degrees during these last days of April – and no more showers.

May starts warm with afternoons in the low 80s and nighttime temperatures staying above 50 degrees. Warmer nights mean warmer soil – and more comfortable roots. Start planting those tomatoes!

Not surprisingly (considering our weather history), Sunday also is Sacramento’s unofficial Tomato Planting Day – a commemoration of Farmer Fred Hoffman’s birthday as well as awareness of spring weather patterns.

Happy birthday, Fred!

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Don’t wait; plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Start setting out tomato transplants, but wait on the peppers and eggplants (they want warmer nights). Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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