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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 8

Apple season is here! Be sure to pick up any fallen fruit and fertilize your deciduous fruit trees. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

This weather was made for gardening; time to get stuff done!

Take advantage of a cooldown.

The final weeks of summer are feeling a lot like fall, with high temperatures forecast in the mid 80s -- well below normal for this week in Sacramento.

Undoubtedly, you'll find plenty to do in your garden as plants are transitioning from hot summer to cool fall and winter.

Before you pull out those tomato plants and other summer favorites, notice if they're flowering and setting new fruit. Conditions for another round of tomatoes look ideal. If weather stays dry and mild, those bonus toms will be ripe in time for Thanksgiving.

* Weed, weed, weed! Lots of grasses and other invaders grew rapidly in August and may be now getting ready to bloom (if they haven't already). Pull them out before they have a chance to set and distribute seed.
* 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.
* Pick up fallen fruit from apples and pears.
* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.
* 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.
* 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.


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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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