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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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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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