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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 23

Fall is finally in the air (and so is fire danger)

It's decorative gourd season! Harvest your squash, gourds and pumpkins for decor galore.

It's decorative gourd season! Harvest your squash, gourds and pumpkins for decor galore.

Kathy Morrison

After a string of summerlike days, gusty conditions are expected to blow through Northern California and drop temperatures by double digits. With those winds comes increased fire danger.

“A significant pattern change will take place in the West this weekend with a major storm system digging and carving through the region,” says the National Weather Service. “A number of weather hazards are expected from high winds for a large chunk of the West to the first heavy mountain snowfall of the season for the northern and central Rockies. Also, temperatures are likely to be well below normal this weekend and all of next week.”

That system definitely will affect Sacramento’s weather week. We start out windy and turn chilly.

Noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, a high wind warning will be in effect for much of the Sacramento Valley and surrounding areas with winds of 15 to 25 mph forecast, says the Sacramento NWS bulletin. Locally, gusts of 30 to 40 mph could hit Sunday afternoon and evening.

Coupled with low humidity, those gusty winds increase fire danger – all it takes is one spark. Put away power tools for another day, especially if working around tall dry grass.

Also be on the lookout for falling limbs (or whole trees). Months of drought have weakened root systems as well as branches. A strong gust may be just enough push to bring a stressed tree down.

Once the winds recede, Sacramento will see some great gardening weather, albeit no rain. Right now, the weather service expects us to stay dry. There’s a “slight chance” of showers late Tuesday night, but otherwise no precipitation is in the forecast.

Through Friday, daytime highs will be pleasantly in the low 70s – below normal for mid October (which averages highs of 78), but 20 degrees cooler than last week. Overnight lows will start dipping into the mid 40s; that will bring out fall colors in trees and finish off the tomatoes.

* Plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Remember to deep-water any transplants.

* 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.

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

* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.

Previous posts on fall planting:

California's favorite winter vegetable to grow: Broccoli

Fallen leaves: Turn mess into mulch

Want poppies? Plant now!

Disappearing seedlings? Usual suspects may be to blame

Tips for planting trees in Sacramento


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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