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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 18

After dry thunderstorms, expect 'normal' July weather

Pink, coral and red-violet zinnias
Zinnias add color to the summer garden, and attract pollinators, too. (Photo:
Kathy Morrison)



Our strange summer weather patterns continue. With high humidity, there’s a possibility of thunderstorms Sunday into Monday, but unfortunately no rain.

These dry lightning storms can be extremely dangerous, especially in bone-dry Northern California. Lightning can spark wildfires and also poses a danger to people and pets.

Keep an ear out for thunder, says the National Weather Service. If you hear the sky clapping, skedaddle indoors.

After Monday, our weather outlook will be very normal for mid-July in Sacramento, with highs in the low to mid 90s and overnight lows dipping to about 60. Those evening cooldowns will keep mornings comfortable – ideal for garden chores. Plants like this weather, too.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Water, then fertilize vegetables and blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs to give them a boost. Feeding flowering plants every other week will extend their bloom.

* 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.

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

* 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.

* It's not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

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


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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