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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 8

Much cooler temperatures coming soon; plant now!

This six-pack of baby pak choi (bok choy), grown from seed, is about ready to plant in its permanent spot.

This six-pack of baby pak choi (bok choy), grown from seed, is about ready to plant in its permanent spot. Kathy Morrison

Get ready for some much cooler weather. According to the National Weather Service, our current flashback to summer heat will end soon.

“Today’s warm temperatures are expected to stick around through the weekend,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Saturday morning. “But by early next week, fall weather returns and our high temperatures drop 6-10 degrees below average!”

Saturday's forecast has a high of 94 degrees with 91 on Sunday. But by Sunday night, the ridge of high pressure holding in that warmth disappears, allowing clouds, wind and the possibility of rain to sweep across the Central Valley.

Monday’s forecast high: 69 degrees. That’s 25 degrees lower than Saturday’s expected high. Sacramento could also get damp on Monday afternoon with 0.13 inches of rain predicted by the weather service.

The remainder of the week will pleasantly be in the 70s – perfect planting weather! Overnight lows remain in the mid to high 50s, keeping soil warm and roots cozy. It’s the best combination for getting transplants off to a healthy start.

So, what are you waiting for? Plant something!

* Trees, shrubs and perennials planted now will develop deep, strong roots. This is the best time to transplant water-wise varieties.

* Divide and replant perennials. 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. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioli, 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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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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