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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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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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