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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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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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