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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 22

Pleasant planting weather returns after Sunday's expected (light) rain

It's the perfect time to plants seeds for flowers such as nasturtiums, poppies and sweet peas.

It's the perfect time to plants seeds for flowers such as nasturtiums, poppies and sweet peas. Kathy Morrison

Rain in October? It’s not as rare as we may think. In Sacramento, this month averages nearly an inch (0.95) of precipitation.

But after several days of sunny, summer-like weather, this weekend’s drizzly rain feels like a shock to our system.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento is likely to see less than a tenth of an inch from this storm system on Sunday – just enough to get things damp and cool down temperatures. The forecast calls for a 50% chance of rain, peaking in mid morning Sunday.

Those clouds will noticeably cool temperatures, too. After a high of 85 on Friday, Sunday’s expected high is only 69 – 10 degrees below normal for mid October.

After Sunday, sunny and dry weather returns with highs in the 70s – perfect for planting. Take advantage of this opportunity.

* October is the best month to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Make the most of warm weather this week with damp soil.

* Did your garden get enough rain? Test soil moisture, then consider deep watering shrubs and trees. Likely, they still need a drink.

* 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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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