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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 5

Chilly storm throws another curve into spring weather

This rain-drenched rose shows an example of a blind shoot -- no bud happening here. To remedy, prune the shoot to just above a healthy leaf with five leaflets.

This rain-drenched rose shows an example of a blind shoot -- no bud happening here. To remedy, prune the shoot to just above a healthy leaf with five leaflets. Kathy Morrison

“Unsettled”; that’s how the National Weather Service describes our weekend forecast. Saturday (May 4) certainly fit that description with a mix of showers and thunderstorms, gusty winds and much cooler temperatures.

After basking in warm spring sunshine most of this week, Sacramento saw temperatures plunge more than 30 degrees. After 84 degrees on Friday, Saturday stayed chilly and wet in the low 50s.

With “definite rain showers” forecast throughout the day, Sacramento is expected to total ¾ to 1 inch of rain from this storm, says the weather service.

Sunday and Monday are expected to be cool (70ish) but dry. By Wednesday, we’ll be back in the low to mid 80s – with more heat on the horizon. And next weekend? We could see our first 90-degree day of 2024.

More on weather forecast: https://www.weather.gov/sto/.

What does this mean for our gardens? Expect to see more effects of weather whiplash.

Huge fluctuations in temperature and weather conditions confuse plants (as well as gardeners). For example, roses produce “blind shoots,” stems that never produce a bud or bloom. Prune those off, cutting just above a healthy leaf with five leaflets.

* Survey your garden after the storm. Heavy rain and gusty winds can break the neck of large flowers such as roses.

* Keep an eye on new transplants or seedlings; they could take a pounding on Saturday.

* Watch out for powdery mildew. Warmth that follows moist conditions can cause this fungal disease to “bloom,” too. If you see a leaf that looks like it’s dusted with powdered sugar, snip it off.

* After the storm, 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.

* 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.

* 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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