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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of Sept. 11

Delta breeze brings some relief after epic heat wave

Gardeners probably all feel like this poor navel orange, after more than a week of 100-degree-plus temperatures: Scorched.

Gardeners probably all feel like this poor navel orange, after more than a week of 100-degree-plus temperatures: Scorched.

Kathy Morrison

Relief! The Delta Breeze never felt so good!

Onshore flow of cooler air has finally brought an end to the worse early September heat wave in Sacramento history.

How hot was it? According to the National Weather Service, Downtown Sacramento averaged 108.8 degrees over September’s first nine days, topping the old record for that period (101.1, set in 1923) by 7.7 degrees. Normal for the first two weeks of September: 92.6.

Our overnight lows set a record high, too, averaging 71.1 degrees over the first nine nights in September. This month often is pretty warm at night; the old high-low record was 69.7, set in 1998. Average for this time period: 60. 8.

“It was quite the start to September for #NorCal with a historic heat wave,” tweeted the Sacramento NWS office. “This helped bring the hottest start to the month of September on record for interior Northern California with the average high so far for Sacramento at 108.8 and 109.8 for Redding.”

Sacramento International Airport set daily records with new highs on six consecutive days, Sept. 4-9.

What a difference a little ocean breeze makes! The weather service predicts high temperatures 20 degrees or more cooler than last week. The forecast high for Wednesday: 81 degrees.

Sacramento is expected to stay comfortably in the 80s through next weekend. Instead of heat, the challenge now will be smoke from nearby wildfires. But forecasters anticipate the onshore flow will push most of the haze east, out of Sacramento.

What to do now that you can venture outdoors?

* Start by rinsing off your plants. Sticky residue from smoke can stick to leaves and clog pores, inhibiting their ability to “breathe.” This also will help get rid of spider mites, which have been loving this dry heat.

* Now is the time to plant for fall. Warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant – if you have any. Wash veggies well to remove smoke residue.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

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

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

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies. Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.


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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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