Enjoy the benefits of milder weather; plant for the cool season ahead
Lettuce transplants benefit from straw mulch.
October is usually a sweet spot for Sacramento-area gardeners: Not too hot, not too cold and just right for planting.
According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will settle into a pleasant pattern during the first week of October. Afternoon highs are expected to top out in the low 80s with nights in the high 50s. That’s warmer than normal for October in Sacramento, which averages highs of 78 degrees and lows of 50 for this month.
October starts a new “water year,” the 12 months that gauge our rain (and drought) outlook. On average, October sees almost an inch of precipitation – just enough to get transplants off to a strong start and help roots grow deep.
Plan to make the most of this opportunity in your garden.
* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.
* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.
* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.
* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.
* Plant garlic and onions.
* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.
* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.
* 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.
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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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