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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 15


Purple and white eggplants
Keep those summer crops harvested, and they'll continue producing into fall. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
Hot nights keep days warmer, too, but relief coming soon


Hot and smoky; those may be favorable qualities for a spicy pepper, but not for the weather.

Unfortunately, orange haze continues to tint our skies as smoke from the Dixie Fire and other blazes accumulates in the Central Valley. Meanwhile, Sacramento area temperatures are again spiking over 105.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will be under a heat advisory now through at least Sunday night. Predicted high for Sunday in Sacramento: 106 degrees. Keeping this oven baking are low temperatures in the 70s, 10 degrees above average for mid-August.

Monday also should see triple digits in the afternoon, but then we’ll finally get some overnight relief. Tuesday’s high is forecast for “only” 92 degrees – normal for this time of summer. For the rest of the week, lows are expected to dip back down to 60 or 61 degrees, helping to keep daytime highs in check. The weather service forecasts low to mid 90s Tuesday into next weekend.

So, take it easy this weekend. Don’t stress in this heat and bad air. Instead, wait until temperatures cool down a little before tackling major chores, fertilizing or planting. That cool-down will be here soon.

* Harvest tomatoes, beans, squash, pepper and eggplants to prompt plants to keep producing.

* Give your veggies a deep watering twice a week, more if planted in containers.

* After watering, give tomatoes, peppers and other non-leafy veggies a boost with phosphate-rich fertilizer to help set fruit. Feed every other week.

* Watch out for caterpillars and hornworms in the vegetable garden. They can strip a plant bare in one day. Pick them off plants by hand in early morning or late afternoon.

* Mulch can be your garden's best friend; it conserves moisture while blocking out weeds. But don't let mulch mound around stalks, stems or trunks. That can promote rot.

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

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

* Pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals to lengthen their summer bloom.

* Dead head roses.

* Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit.

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

* Plant potatoes.

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



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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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