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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 Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* 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 bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

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

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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