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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 18

Early storm could soak Sacramento, break long dry spell

Rake leaves out of the gutter to prevent clogs and flooding.

Rake leaves out of the gutter to prevent clogs and flooding. Kathy Morrison

Remember that wet stuff that falls from the sky? We haven’t seen any in a long, long time. But starting Sunday, a major storm system is expected to blow through Northern California including the greater Sacramento area.
"Are you ready for rain?” tweeted the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service. “You have about one more day to prepare before wet weather returns. Even dry leaves can clog storm drains and cause flooding on roads. Remove leaves from drains, check gutters and wiper blades, and be sure to find that umbrella as well!”
Spend some time raking leaves away from storm drains before the storms start Sunday morning.

Downtown Sacramento’s last measurable rain – 0.15 inches – fell on June 5.

How much could Sacramento get? Forecasters predict ½ to 1 inch between Sunday morning and Tuesday night. That’s significant; Sacramento’s September rain average is 0.29 inches.

Most of this week’s moisture will be steady, soaking showers – good news for trees.

After record highs, temperatures will be unseasonably cool – Monday’s forecast is 69, a 40-degree drop from two weeks ago. After the clouds move on, temperatures will quickly move back into the mid 80s by next weekend.

Move potted plants where they can soak up some of this free water. After the storm, your garden will feel refreshed – and ready to plant for fall.

* After the storm will be a good time to plant for fall. Soil will still be warm and help veggies and fall annuals get off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant.

* 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 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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