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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 29

Autumn Joy stonecrop ( Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy') is a sturdy perennial and a good choice for fall planting. The flower clusters start out pink, then age to a rosy russet in fall. This specimen grows in the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Fall is for planting -- so what are you waiting for?

You hear this motto often from Sacramento plant people: Fall is for planting.

Warm soil, cooler weather, maybe a little rain; conditions are ideal for putting new plants in the ground or moving things around.

It's no coincidence so many plant sales and gardening events are held during these first weeks of autumn. (Just check out our
garden calendar .) And the weather is cooperating, too, with this week's high temperatures forecast in the 70s and 80s.

So, hit the dirt!

* October is the best month to plant perennials in our area. (The last weekend of September works, too.) Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal (or rock phosphate) to the planting hole, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered, but not wet, for the first month as they become settled.
* This is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. Follow the same advice as perennials.
* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.
* In the vegetable garden, 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.
* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, 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.
* Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.
* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.


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Garden Checklist for week of July 14

Your garden needs you!

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Feed vegetable plants bone meal, rock phosphate or other fertilizers high in phosphate to stimulate more blooms and fruiting. (But wait until daily high temperatures drop out of the 100s.)

* 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.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* 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.

* It's not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

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

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