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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 25

Windy start followed by excellent gardening weather

Dark purple pepper
Here's a perfect pepper for Halloween: Count Dracula. The pepper is dark purple when immature,
turning red as it ripens. Its median Scoville heat is 17,500 SHU. Peppers, especially smaller ones, can overwinter in the Sacramento area if in a protected spot. This one has done very well in a container.(Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Watch out for sparks! According to the National Weather Service, most of Northern California is under "Red Flag Warning" through Tuesday night.

A combination of strong gusty winds (up to 50 mph in the Sacramento Valley, 60 mph in the foothills and mountains) and low humidity (only 5 to 25%) make for extreme fire danger.

Grass fires easily can be ignited by a stray spark, such as those caused by a lawn mower or edger blade hitting a rock. Wait to use power equipment in high fire areas until winds die down.

Sunday afternoon through Monday, the winds will be at their strongest, says the weather service. Watch out for downed trees or branches.

Otherwise, this week offers glorious gardening weather. Temperatures shouldn't get out of the 70s for the next seven days. Overnight lows are getting chilly, dipping down to 45 degrees on Wednesday.
Enjoy the last week of October outdoors -- after a windy start.

* Summer vegetables will start slowing way down if they haven't already stopped altogether. Consider pulling the last of the tomatoes and squash. Peppers (especially if they have immature fruit) can stick around longer and may overwinter.
* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.
* Harvest apples, pears and persimmons. Clean up fallen fruit.
* Plant trees, shrubs and perennials. This may be your last chance to take advantage of these prime planting conditions.
* 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.
* Plant cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.
* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.
* Plant garlic and onions.
* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.
* Work on the lawn. Reseed and feed turf.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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