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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 June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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