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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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