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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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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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