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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 21

Warm weather brings rapid snow melt – and cold water

The warm May weather means melon plants (these are Ambrosias), as well as squash, pumpkins and cucumbers, pop up quickly from seed. Keep seedlings watered and mulched as they mature.

The warm May weather means melon plants (these are Ambrosias), as well as squash, pumpkins and cucumbers, pop up quickly from seed. Keep seedlings watered and mulched as they mature.

Kathy Morrison

Typical for May, Sacramento can expect more warm days this week, says the National Weather Service. What’s not so typical is the Sierra snow pack, which is melting rapidly. Higher-than-normal temperatures accompanied by thunderstorms are turning those snow caps into runoff, filling local rivers and streams with very icy water.

Although it may be tempting to plunge into the American or Sacramento rivers, watch out!

“It's going to be another warm weekend, with above-average temps throughout much of the valley and foothills, with a 15-30% chance of isolated thunderstorms in the mountains,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office. “Remember that though the air is HOT, the water is COLD. Think twice before getting in!”

That cold water is good news for farmers and gardeners. It looks like we’ll have ample supplies for this summer’s crops.

As for those temperatures, forecast highs for Sacramento top out at 94 degrees Monday, says the weather service. Normal for this week: 80 degrees. Lows are on the high side, too, with 58 degrees forecast for Monday and Tuesday.

Breezy conditions later this week will bring some relief; forecast highs for Wednesday through Friday are 77 to 79 degrees.

Make the most of this warm spring weather. If you haven’t already, plant your summer vegetables.

* 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. For faster flowers, transplant seedlings for many of the same plants.

* 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.

* 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.


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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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