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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 6

Add violas or other cool-weather bedding plants to your garden for
some cheery color. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Sunny conditions perfect for transplanting; when wind gusts, watch out for sparks

Pleasant days and warm nights make this week ideal for transplanting. If you attended any of the plant sales this weekend, that's great news.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento should expect sunny and breezy conditions with highs in the 80s and lows in the 50s. That keeps the soil warm -- great for root development.
Some areas will experience much more than breeze, with wind gusts up to 35 mph. Coupled with extremely low humidity, those winds have brought out a Red Flag Warning. With the threat of extreme fire danger, use extra care when operating lawn and garden equipment or anything else that may cause sparks. Even in suburbia, fire can spread rapidly when conditions are like this.

With a hose handy, here are some early October tasks to tackle:
* October is the best month to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. If you need to move a plant, consider doing it now.
* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.
* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.
* Plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.
* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.
* Plant garlic and onions.
* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioli, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.
* Keep an eye on pumpkins and winter squash.
* Harvest apples and pears.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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