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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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