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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 1

August weather gets off to a 'normal' start; time to think about fall

Small pumpkin on vine on trellis
A mini pumpkin forms on a trellis-trained vine. Phosphate-rich fertilizer
will help vegetables keep fruiting this time of year. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)



You know it’s been hot when 95 degrees feels like a “cooldown.”

After a steamy end to July, August starts out with no triple-digit temperatures in the immediate forecast. Instead, we’ll have a week full of “normal” not-so-hot August nights and days.

According to the National Weather Service, our coolest day this week should be Wednesday, which is forecast for a high of 91 and low of 58. That also happens to be Sacramento’s average high and low for August.

Make the most of this pleasant summer weather, especially in the morning when temperatures are coolest.

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

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

* Give vegetables a boost with phosphate-rich fertilizer to help fruiting. (Always water before feeding.)

* 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.

* 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.

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

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

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


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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