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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 29


red tomato on the vine
Keep harvesting tomatoes as they ripen; give the plants a spritz if they have a
lot of ash accumulated on them. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

September brings cooldown and another planting season


Relief is on its way! August ends with another smoky triple-digit weekend. But September starts Wednesday with some much needed coolness and (we hope) cleaner air.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will smolder through Sunday with a forecast high of 101. Then, light winds will start to blow away the haze and bring high temperatures down. By Wednesday, we’ll be back in the mid 80s for the rest of the week.

Weather then will be ideal for setting out cool-season vegetables: Not too hot in the afternoon, but still warm and cozy after dark.

Wait this weekend, then get started in earnest on your fall and winter vegetable garden. Although there’s plenty to keep busy, avoid outdoor activity during poor air quality.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant.

* Pull plants that have finished producing and compost.

* Cultivate and add compost or other amendments to the soil to replenish its nutrients for the next season of 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, cauliflower, lettuce and other greens.

* 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 bearded iris as well as other rhizomes, bulbs and perennials.

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

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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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