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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of May 28

Make most of mild Memorial Day weekend weather

Transplant marigolds now for continued summer color. Some gardeners like to edge their vegetable planting areas with marigolds.

Transplant marigolds now for continued summer color. Some gardeners like to edge their vegetable planting areas with marigolds. Kathy Morrison

Our weird spring weather continues into the unofficial start of summer – but who’s complaining? Milder than normal temperatures give us procrastinating gardeners more time to plant tomatoes and a lot more.

According to the National Weather Service, a marine layer hanging offshore of San Francisco Bay pushed into the Delta. More moisture and turbulent conditions were expected to produce thunderstorms (and hail) in the foothills and Sierra.

While Sacramento may not have many clouds, we get the benefit of that cool moisture surrounding the Valley and lower-than-normal temperatures.

Average high for the last week of May in Sacramento: 85 degrees. Last year, Memorial Day weekend hit 102 degrees.

Instead, Sacramento saw four straight days this past week in the mid to low 70s. After a high of 92 on Monday (May 22), Thursday only reached 72 – a 20-degree drop.

More 70s are forecast for Sacramento by the weather service for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, before we edge into the low 80s. But we’re expected to remain on the cool side of normal through next weekend.

Make the most of these cooler temperatures. Get to work!

* 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 fertilizing program, and keep track on your calendar. Make sure to water your garden before applying any fertilizer to prevent “burning” your plants. (Also, don't fertilize droopy or stressed plants -- it will just stress them more.)

* 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 maintain soil moisture and cut down on weeds. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle around tree or shrub trunks to avoid crown rot or other problems.

* Plant, plant, plant! Set out tomato transplants along with peppers, eggplants, squash and melons.

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

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

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

* Transplant summer color such as petunias and marigolds.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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