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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of Nov. 18

Plant amaryllis indoors now for winter bloom. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Smoky air complicates fall gardening; plant inside instead

Air too yucky to be outside? Garden indoors instead.

* Dust or rinse foliage of indoor plants. That greenery is helping purify your inside air. Give houseplants some TLC; a little misting can revitalize leaves. Remove any browned or damaged foliage. Water with half-strength fertilizer.

* Got bulbs? Pot some up for winter blooms indoors. Plant amaryllis, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths or other favorites in good fast-draining potting mix. Add 1 tablespoon bone meal to each pot before planting. Place bulbs at a shallow depth for faster growth and bloom. Water once, then place in a warm sunny window. Water as needed as bulbs sprout and grow.

* For holiday blooms indoors, plant paperwhite narcissus bulbs now. No soil is necessary.

Fill a shallow bowl or dish with 2 inches of rocks or pebbles. Place bulbs in the dish with the root end nestled in the rocks. Add water until it just touches the bottom of the bulbs. Place the dish in a sunny window. Add water as needed.
Apple Blossom amaryllis in bloom

Meanwhile, before going outside:

* Monitor air quality at . Particulate matter from the Camp Fire has created hazardous conditions. Sacramento hit 301 on the Air Quality Index on Friday, with forecasts improving to “unhealthy” for Sunday through Tuesday. With information from Sacramento Region air quality districts, the website includes forecasts and reports for several spots in the Valley and foothills. Air quality varies greatly.

* If you can see smoky air, stay indoors as much as possible. Limit outdoor exercise and exposure.

* Monitor temperatures, too. We’re entering frost season with overnight lows dipping below freezing. Protect sensitive plants.

* If frost is in the forecast, irrigate the garden. Moist soil is warmer than dry and hydrated plants better withstand low temperatures.


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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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