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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of June 11

Coolish June weather continues but watch out for threat of thunderstorms

The squash is forming! But those babies won't grow unless pollinated.  If bees aren't finding your zucchini flowers, try transferring pollen from the large flowers to the ones with mini squashes at the base. Use a small soft brush.

The squash is forming! But those babies won't grow unless pollinated. If bees aren't finding your zucchini flowers, try transferring pollen from the large flowers to the ones with mini squashes at the base. Use a small soft brush. Kathy Morrison

“When thunder roars, go indoors!” That’s the warning from the National Weather Service as unsettled weather conditions – including possible thunderstorms – continue this week.

According to the forecast, thunderstorms are possible this weekend in the Sierra and foothills, and maybe even the valley. Lightning can strike from up to 10 miles away, adds the weather service. Among the activities people who were recently struck by lightning were doing when they were hit: Gardening!

So, wait until storm clouds pass before you swing into action outdoors this week.

Meanwhile, our coolish June continues – at least a few more days. So far, only two days this month have been above Sacramento’s average June high temperature of 87 degrees. This week starts the same, dipping down to 77 on Monday under mostly cloudy skies.

By next weekend, we’ll see the mercury creep up to more normal summer-like conditions but not too hot. The expected high for Father’s Day (June 18): 89 degrees.

Make the most of these temperate conditions. (Just make sure to go inside if you hear thunder!)

* 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.

* 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 summer weather.

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

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Deep-water tomatoes, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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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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