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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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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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