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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 20

Some rain possible from unusual storm system, but not a deluge

Clip off spent roses and fertilize the plants now. Roses will rebloom about six to eight weeks after deadheading.

Clip off spent roses and fertilize the plants now. Roses will rebloom about six to eight weeks after deadheading. Kathy Morrison

A tropical storm in August – in Sacramento? Don’t get too excited about the prospects of a local deluge thanks to Hurricane Hilary. By the time the remnants of this unusual storm system reach our latitude, there won’t be much left – and it will mostly bend towards the Sierra, says the National Weather Service.

We could still get a little wet Sunday and Monday in Sacramento, says the weather service.

“Hilary's track has shifted eastward slightly since yesterday,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Saturday morning. “Widespread rain is still expected across interior NorCal with limited impacts. Highest rain totals will be in the Sierra.”

As of Saturday morning, the Sacramento forecast calls for “a slight chance of rain” on Sunday and early Monday. The chances increase to 40% by late Monday morning and most of the day. The anticipated rain total for Hilary’s impact on Sacramento: 0.18 inches.

August rain is not unheard of in Sacramento, but it’s typically scant; the month’s historical rain total averages 0.05 inches. So, the expected total is still three times our historic average. Likely, you’ll have to keep the sprinklers on this week.

The storm’s cloud cover will lower temperatures significantly. Monday’s forecast high is only 83 degrees – about 20 below last week’s highs. But that cooling trend will be short-lived; Sacramento will be back to 97 degrees by Wednesday.

Take advantage of that cloudy cooldown for any garden chores. Concentrate on maintenance and preparation for fall.

* Prepare for a fall full of flowers by paying a little extra attention to your garden. Cut off spent blooms from roses, annuals and perennials, then give them a boost of fertilizer. Make sure to water plants before feeding. Roses will rebloom about six to eight weeks after deadheading.

* If you haven’t already, feed citrus trees their last round of fertilizer for the year. This will give a boost to the fruit that's now forming.

* Harvest tomatoes, beans, squash, pepper and eggplants to prompt plants to keep producing. Give your plants a deep watering twice a week, more if planted in containers. Also, give them a boost with phosphate-rich fertilizer to help fruiting. (Always water before feeding.)

* Watch out for caterpillars and hornworms in the vegetable garden. They can strip a plant bare in one day. Pick them off plants by hand in early morning or late afternoon.

* Camellia leaves looking a little yellow? Feed them some chelated iron. That goes for azaleas and gardenias, too.

* Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot. Then feed fruit trees with slow-release fertilizer for better production for next year.

* To prolong bloom into fall, feed begonias, fuchsias, annuals and container plants.

* Fertilize fall-blooming perennials, too. Chrysanthemums can be fed until the buds start to open.

* Indoors, start seedlings for fall vegetable planting, including bunching onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radicchio and lettuce.

* Sow seeds of perennials in pots for fall planting including yarrow, coneflower and salvia.

* In the garden, direct seed beets, bush beans, carrots, leaf lettuce and turnips.

* Plant potatoes.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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