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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 June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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