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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 12

Dry, sunny and slightly cooler weather ahead; get ready for fall

Cabbage plant with sign and straw mulch
Cool-weather vegetables such as cabbage, above, bok choy and chard are newly
planted at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. The floating row cover is ready to pull
over the plants to protect them from birds, cabbage moths and other pests. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)



After some “perceived” precipitation (but little real rain) from passing thunderstorms, our September weather is settling into a “normal” pattern: Dry and sunny days, followed by cool nights.

According to the National Weather Service, expect several days in the low 90s or high 80s, with overnight lows dipping into the 50s.

“We will see a warming trend through Tuesday followed by slightly cooler temperatures going into the later portions of next week,” says the weather service’s Sacramento office.

That warming trend is forecast to top out at 96 degrees Tuesday; by Thursday, it will drop 10 degrees to a predicted high of 86.

As for precipitation, the weather service labeled Friday’s thunderstorm rain total as “perceived” for much of the Sacramento area. That’s not enough to get a measurement, but it sure looked like rain. While Downtown Sacramento got no measurable rain, Executive Airport did record 0.05 inches.

Meanwhile, give your trees and shrubs a deep watering this week. No rain – perceived or otherwise – is expected until later this month.

Take advantage of cooler weather later this week to get your garden ready for fall.

* Pull out tomato vines if they’ve stopped producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies. Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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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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