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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 2

No fooling: Chilly nights forecast, with possible frost

Cherry blossom time! This little Bing is starting to show off. Meanwhile, winter hangs on, givjng us lower-than-normal overnight temperatures.

Cherry blossom time! This little Bing is starting to show off. Meanwhile, winter hangs on, givjng us lower-than-normal overnight temperatures.

Kathy Morrison

It may be April, but expect some chilly temperatures this week – and possible more frost danger.

How cold? “Dress for winter,” says the National Weather Service.

“Mild overnight lows this weekend will be followed by COLD lows returning early next week after the passage of a cold weather system,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Saturday. “Use the weekend to plan ahead so you can protect your pets, plants and people!”

That cold weather system is expected to dump more snow in the Sierra, which already received more than 700 inches this winter. That’s plenty of moisture in our water bank.

For Sacramento, there’s no snow – or even more rain – but plenty of chill. The weather service predicts overnight lows in the mid 30s Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with “areas of frost” forecast for the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Make sure to cover any tender transplants.

Daytime highs continues to stay below normal, too. Afternoons will stay below 63 degrees until finally starting to warm on Thursday. Friday’s predicted high is a very comfortable 69 degrees – which is still below normal. Average temperatures for this week in Sacramento: 71 and 46.

What does this mean? It’s still too cold to plant tomatoes. Wait at least another week (or two).

Meanwhile, focus on what’s growing – which is a lot!

* Weed, weed, weed! Take a hoe and whack them at the roots. Aim for 1 inch below the soil line.

* 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.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* 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.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

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

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

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

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* 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.

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

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

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* 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.

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