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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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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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