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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 Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished 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. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* 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.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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