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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 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

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

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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