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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 Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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