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Garden checklist: Don’t wait on your tomatoes

Tomato plants do well when planted deep.
Tomato plants do well when planted deep. Sacramento Bee file

Break out the tomato transplants; it’s time to plant! Overnight temperatures are warm enough and so is the soil, so get those babies in the ground now if you intend to have summer tomatoes. Plant the seedlings – leave just the top two sets of leaves above ground – deep to promote good roots. Remember: Tomatoes with good roots can get by with less irrigation and produce more fruit.

▪ When will those tomatoes be ready to harvest? Most varieties will start bearing fruit about 60 days after transplanting. Expect to see something ready for harvest shortly after July Fourth.

▪  How much water will those tomato transplants need? Most tomatoes can get by on weekly deep irrigation; water them twice a week in hot weather or if they show signs of heat stress. If on a drip system, plan for 5 gallons a week per plant.

▪ With nighttime temperatures above 50 degrees, it’s warm enough to plant seedling eggplant, squash and peppers.

▪  It’s time to plant seeds for basil, beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash, sunflowers and radishes.

▪  Time to harvest, too. Bring in peas, fava beans, lettuce, cabbage and green onions. Pull lettuce and other greens before they go to seed and turn bitter.

▪  Mulch around plants to control weeds and conserve moisture. Be sure to leave a small circle around the base of each plant to prevent rotting stems or trunks.

▪  For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses and other flowering plants. (This is called “deadheading.”)

▪  Check for powdery mildew on grapes. If needed, spray with sulfur or potassium bicarbonate, available at nurseries. Always irrigate plants before applying fungicide or pesticide.

Debbie Arrington

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