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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 3

Make the most of this cool end of summer; start your fall garden

Did your garden wake up to rain this morning? It's a refreshing change from heat and smoky air.

Did your garden wake up to rain this morning? It's a refreshing change from heat and smoky air. Kathy Morrison

Rain in September? It’s not as rare in Sacramento as Labor Day weekend in the 70s, but that’s how we’re starting this new month – thanks to an unseasonably cold low-pressure system.

According to the National Weather Service, possible rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast through Saturday (Sept. 2) for more than 70% of Northern California. With or without precipitation, those clouds are keeping temperatures down.

Sacramento can expect highs of only 77 degrees on Saturday and Sunday – 15 degrees below normal for this first weekend of September. We’ll be in the 80s Monday and Tuesday before returning to the low 90s midweek.

Make the most of this cool end to summer; get started on fall gardening!

And keep that umbrella handy. Sacramento actually averages 0.29 inches of rain in September.

* September starts another season in the vegetable garden. 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.

* 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.

* 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.

* Also divide and transplant bearded irises that have become overcrowded to renew their blooming vigor.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* 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.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

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

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* 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.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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