Protect your backyard grape crop from scavenging birds. Attach flash tape to some of the branches; or, place netting over the vines and secure it to the ground.

Tomato hornworms are arriving late this year. Look for them when they are actively munching on your tomato leaves, early in the morning or just after sunset.

If your automatic sprinklers come on while you're asleep, take a few minutes to turn them on manually to check for any broken or clogged sprinkler heads.

If you'll be renovating your lawn on a weekend this fall, now's the time to call the rental yard to reserve a dethatcher and aerator.

Plant a short row of lettuce every two weeks until mid-October. The loose leaf varieties, including Green Ice and Ruby, do best here.

Add organic matter to the garden bed before planting winter crops such as broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, onion sets, garden peas, garlic, carrots and beets.

Ferocious winter winds that whip through the Delta and the Central Valley are on the way; check the ties on stakes that support young trees and tree roses. However, to allow a tree's root system to fully develop, don't continue to stake any tree that can stand straight on its own. One year for tree stakes is usually enough.

Nurseries will have a good selection of tulips, daffodils and crocus bulbs this month for planting in October. Chill tulip bulbs in the refrigerator for four weeks before planting.

Looking for perennials that will provide some Christmastime color in the yard? Plants for our area that are available now include euryops, primroses, freeway daisy and winter blooming bergenia.

Add shrubs that bloom in the winter. Among the ones that do well here are camellias, daphne, forsythia and flowering quince.

Shorter days and cooler daytime temperatures reduces the amount of water your lawn needs. Cut back your sprinkler time by 25%.

Plant daffodil bulbs every two to three weeks from now through November to prolong the bloom period next spring.

Nurseries have a good supply of winter blooming annuals in supply now; don't overlook their selection of onion sets, which will be coming soon.

Keep cabbage loopers, aphids and whiteflies away from your winter vegetable crops with row covers.

Feed your lawn now with a complete, slow release fertilizer. Look for three prominent numbers listed on the bag, which refer to the percentage of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus of the fertilizer.

Remove the dead and dying summer vegetable plants from your garden. Work compost into the area, giving it a head start for next year's crops. A good rule of thumb: rototill in one cubic yard of compost for every 300 square feet of garden space.

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