After chilly, wet start to May, expect a rapid warm-up
Everything's soggy again, but the rain provides an opportunity to check around the garden for low spots and saturated soil.
Our crazy “whiplash weather” continues. Expect a 30-degree warm-up (again) by next weekend.
According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will warm quickly following Saturday’s chilly showers. (The same storm delivered snow in the Sierra passes – on May 6!)
Our high on Thursday was only 61 degrees – 15 below average for that date. After a couple more days below normal, we’ll see 77 degrees on Wednesday – but 90 by Friday. That may start a series of summer-like days, says the weather service.
How will this impact your garden? Be ready for lots of rapid growth.
* Check soil moisture in several places around your garden. Some spots may be saturated; avoid walking or working those wet areas. Some places may need extra irrigation; give those plants a drink.
* 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 later this week. Those showers may not have delivered much moisture. Seedlings need consistency. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.
* Put your veggie garden on a regular diet. Set up a monthly feeding program, and keep track on your calendar. Make sure to water your garden before applying any fertilizer to prevent “burning” your plants.
* As spring-flowering shrubs finish blooming, give them a little pruning to shape them, removing old and dead wood. Lightly trim azaleas, fuchsias and marguerites for bushier plants.
* Add mulch to the garden to conserve moisture and maintain soil warmth. 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.
* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. 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. (You also can transplant seedlings for many of the same flowers.)
* 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.
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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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