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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 16

Pleasant (but still warm) days ahead – great for fall planting

Persimmons are ripening in the warm fall weather.

Persimmons are ripening in the warm fall weather. Kathy Morrison

Summer is over (really, we mean it!), but warmer than average days continue to linger.

According to the National Weather Service, “Area temperatures have been warm this month so far, both highs and lows. Persistent high pressure has been the cause. Redding Airport has even seen three days when the high reached 100 degrees, the 8th, 12th and 13th.”

Sacramento didn’t get quite that hot, topping out at 95 degrees on Oct. 7 and 8. Normal for October is 78 degrees. As the weather service noted, overnight lows have been relatively warm, too, staying mostly in the high 50s; normal is 50.

The forecast for the week ahead will feel more like fall – at least for starters. Sunday and Monday are expected to be just about average (76 and 77 are the respective forecast highs). Then, the weather service predicts another little spike in heat, back up to 88 on Wednesday, before settling down to the low 80s/high 70s by next weekend. Meanwhile, overnight lows will remain above average, hovering around 55 degrees. This week is expected to remain dry with still no precipitation in sight.

All this warmth makes for great planting weather. Cool-season crops will get off to a fast start.

* This is the best time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials in Sacramento. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to the planting hole, 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, if you still have one. 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.

* Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.

* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.


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Garden Checklist for week of July 14

Your garden needs you!

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Feed vegetable plants bone meal, rock phosphate or other fertilizers high in phosphate to stimulate more blooms and fruiting. (But wait until daily high temperatures drop out of the 100s.)

* 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.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* 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.

* It's not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers.

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