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The Claw returns to Sacramento streets


The Claw is coming for your leaves! Check the calendar to find out when. (Photo courtesy City of Sacramento)

Leaf Season officially begins with collection calendar



I love The Claw!

When I heard that metal-against-concrete scrape, I knew Sacramento Leaf Season had officially begun. As someone who does a lot of pruning and has a lot of leaves, I really appreciate The Claw's service. Now I know when to expect its visit.

Through Jan. 27, 2019, the City of Sacramento rolls out its leaf-collecting brigade of John Deere scoopers. This machine, affectionately nicknamed The Claw, grabs big piles of leaves, prunings and other garden waste that tends to overwhelm the City of Trees in late fall and winter.

According to the City of Sacramento, 10 to 15 crews will cruise city streets with Claws and rear-loading trucks. By the end of the season, they expect to pick up more than 54 million pounds of green waste.

Residents can plan ahead for when to put out piles for The Claw. The city suggests filling green waste containers for weekly pick-up before piling up material in the street; that makes the whole process go faster.

Some tips on leaf piles:
* Piles should be no more than 5 cubic yards. That's 4 by 4 by 9 feet, or the size of a small sports car.
* Limbs, branches and canes should be no more than 3 feet long and under 4 inches in diameter.
* Place pile at least 6 feet away from any obstructions (such as parked cars). Allow space between the pile and the curb to allow water to flow to storm drains. Try not to block bike lanes.
* No plastic bags; it's green waste only.
* No pet waste. (Put that in the garbage.)
For more tips: www.cityofsacramento.org .

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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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