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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 10

Windy start but cool temperatures make for good gardening

Coneflower with bee on it
Perennials such as coneflowers can be planted now to get a good start in the still-
warm soil. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)



Still no rain, but we’ve got wind – and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

According to the National Weather Service, gusty winds up to 40 mph are forecast for the Central Valley and foothills through Tuesday night. Coupled with extremely dry conditions, those winds intensify fire danger.

Be extra careful while doing any work outside. A lawnmower or edger hitting a rock can cause a spark. If near dry grass or weeds, that little spark can rapidly become a full-blown wildfire, even in suburban areas.

Meanwhile, Sacramento temperatures will be on the cool side with afternoons in the high 60s or low 70s, says the weather service. Overnight lows will dip into the 40s.

That makes for very comfortable gardening weather – after the wind dies down.

* October is the best month to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to the planting hole, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* This is also prime time to plant trees or shrubs.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioli, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

* Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.

* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.

* Plant seeds for cornflowers, nasturtiums, nigella, poppies, portulaca, sweet peas and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansies, snapdragons, primroses and violas.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Consider reducing your lawn’s size to save water.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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