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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of Aug. 26


A Mardi Gras rose looks especially vibrant in the diffused light created by our smoky haze. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Enjoy last days of summer, start seriously thinking fall



Enjoy these mild final days of summer as Sacramento temperatures settle into the low 80s most of this week.

That’s ideal weather to get outside and enjoy your garden – and get started on fall.

Hazy conditions continue due to wildfire smoke settling into the Central Valley. While breezes make air quality bearable, that haze is helping to moderate temperatures.

It’s also creating unusual light for outdoor photography, casting an orange glow. Take some pictures of your garden, especially flowers with yellow, red or orange blooms or plants with variegated foliage.

Before you snap those shots, dead-head roses and pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals. They’ll look better – and may keep blooming a little longer.

Other items for your to-do list:

* Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot. Then feed fruit trees with slow-release fertilizer for better production for next year. Water deeply.

* Apples and pears are ripening earlier than normal. That means those trees are also dropping fruit now. Any “worms” you may see likely are codling moth larvae. Pick up and dispose of those infected apples and pears. It will cut down on outbreaks next year.

* Plant onions, leaf lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Sow seeds of perennials in pots for fall planting including yarrow, coneflower and salvia.

* Directly in the garden, sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

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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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