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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 22


Green bell peppers on bush
August often is the height of pepper season. Keep summer vegetables picked to encourage plants to produce more. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Hazy skies keep temperatures in check


One good thing about haze: It can keep temperatures down.

Acting like cloud cover, the wildfire smoke that has filled the skies of our part of the Central Valley has kept a cap on afternoon highs. Instead of triple digits, Sacramento will see a few days in the 80s with the lowest a forecast of 84 on Sunday.

According to the National Weather Service, breezy conditions will dissipate the haze, but also bring heightened fire danger again to foothill communities. Our cooldown will be brief; by next weekend, we’ll likely see another 100-degree day.

Make the most of fresher air and cooler temperatures this week with some quality garden time.

* Harvest tomatoes, peppers, squash and eggplant. Wash well to remove smoke residue.

* Prepare for a fall full of flowers by paying a little extra attention to your garden. Cut off spent blooms from roses, annuals and perennials, then give them a boost of fertilizer. Make sure to water plants before feeding. Roses will rebloom about six to eight weeks after deadheading.

* To prolong bloom into fall, feed begonias, fuchsias, annuals and container plants. Always water before fertilizing.

* Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot. Then feed fruit trees with slow-release fertilizer for better production for next year.

* Feed citrus trees their last round of fertilizer for the year. This will give a boost to the fruit that's now forming.

* Camellia leaves looking a little yellow? Feed them some chelated iron. That goes for azaleas and gardenias, too.

* Fertilize fall-blooming perennials, too. Chrysanthemums can be fed until the buds start to open.

* Indoors, start seedlings for fall vegetable planting, including bunching onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radicchio and lettuce.

* Sow seeds of perennials in pots for fall planting including yarrow, coneflower and salvia.

* In the garden, direct seed beets, carrots, leaf lettuce and turnips.

* Plant potatoes.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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