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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 28

Time to plant kale and other winter favorites. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Warm weather, warm soil great for transplanting

Are we back in September? October exits and November arrives with days in the low 80s. Gusty dry wind is expected to dip temperatures into the low 70s early in the week before highs bounce back to 81 degrees in Sacramento for Halloween day (and 55 Halloween night), according to the National Weather Service. In the V-alley, no rain is in sight.

It’s no wonder plants are confused. Camellias are blooming early; not just the Christmas varieties but Japonicas that usually flower in February. Spring bulbs are spouting prematurely. Peppers and squash (if they weren’t already dead) pushed out more flowers. Roses are covered with buds (and bugs). With so little overnight cold, maples are showing only a blush of fall color.

Make the most of this warm weather and warm soil, great for transplanting shrubs, trees, perennials and more. Big or small, these plants will get off to a faster start with these conditions, helping them to become established by next spring.

Remember to keep any new plantings irrigated. That wind will quickly dry out tender seedlings and soil.

Other garden tasks and observations to wrap up October:

* Remember your 2018 summer successes (and failures) before the details fade away along with the plants. Make notes in your garden calendar or journal about what did well, what didn’t, harvesting information, pest problems and other issues. That information will be invaluable when planning future gardens.

* Did your tomatoes re-flower? Cherry and fast-developing varieties such as Early Girl may bear Christmas tomatoes, but only if those flowers got pollinated. If the vines look brown and spent, pull the plants. Any remaining green fruit may be ripened indoors if the tomatoes reached sufficient maturity.

* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash. Save some seeds for next year.

* Plant seeds for cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants for instant color, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* In the vegetable garden, plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, lettuce and other cool-weather favorites.

* Chill spring-blooming bulbs that need the extra cold. Tulips and hyacinths need six weeks in the refrigerator before planting. Avoid storing bulbs with apples or pears.

* Plant daffodils and other members of the narcissus family plus other bulbs that don’t require pre-chilling such as alliums, amaryllis, anemones, Dutch iris, freesia, ixias, ranunculus, scillas and Sparaxis.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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