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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of Oct. 7

Love kale? Time to get transplants in the ground. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

How much moisture did your garden get? Plan and plant accordingly

In its first few days, October already feels different than the month before. That included a splash of measurable rain.

While some parts of the Sacramento region received a healthy dose, many neighborhoods felt barely a trickle. Sacramento Executive Airport reported 0.04 inches since Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

That brings Sacramento’s 2018 total to 13.58 inches, actually more than an inch above normal for that period. (Sacramento’s average October rainfall total is just under 1 inch.)

Before shutting off the sprinklers or dragging out the hose, check the soil. It will tell you how far recent rain reached or if more water is needed.

Try to push a long-handled screwdriver or other soil probe into the ground. If you can’t push it in easily more than 2 inches, your garden likely needs more water than that first storm provided.

If in doubt, use a trowel and look at the soil, Moisture should reach at least 4 inches deep.

While you have the trowel out:

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins. A little boost now will benefit their spring flowers, too.

* Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.

* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.

* Plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including 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. Tulips and hyacinths need six weeks in the refrigerator before planting. Avoid storing bulbs with apples or pears.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

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

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* 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 fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* 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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