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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 4

Holiday kicks off average week of July warmth

yellow tomatoes
As tomatoes and other summer veggies ripen, keep them picked so the plants will continue producing.
This is a patio-size yellow tomato. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)


Happy July Fourth! It’s cool enough to go outdoors!

After watching the Northwest swelter under a heat dome, no one in Sacramento is complaining about how hot it is this week. We don’t even have a single triple-digit afternoon in our immediate forecast.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will see a string of days in the low 90s, starting with Sunday’s holiday. That’s normal; Sacramento’s early July averages are highs and lows of 92 degrees and 59, respectively.

High temperatures will creep back to the 97-99 range by Friday, but the next few days will be comfortable with nights cooling off to about 60 degrees.

That evening cool down moderates our afternoon heat and makes mornings the best time to get things done in the garden:

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

* 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 now.

* 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.

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


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 27

Before the rain comes later in the week, take advantage of sunny, calm days:

* This may be your last chance this season for the first application of copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees. Leaf curl, which shows up in the spring, is caused by a fungus that winters as spores on the limbs and around the tree in fallen leaves. Sprays are most effective now, but they need a few days of dry weather after application to really “stick.” If you haven’t yet, spray now.

* Rake and compost leaves, but dispose of any diseased plant material. For example, if peach and nectarine trees showed signs of leaf curl this year, clean up under trees and dispose of those leaves instead of composting.

* Make sure storm drains are clear of any debris.

* Give your azaleas, gardenias and camellias a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim chrysanthemums to 6 to 8 inches above the ground after they’re done blooming. Keep potted mums in their containers until next spring. Then, they can be planted in the ground, if desired, or repotted.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant.

* Plant bulbs for spring bloom. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Other suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas.

* Seed wildflowers including California poppies.

* Also from seed, plant sweet pea, sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons and other spring flowers.

* Plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from winter rains.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cool-season greens can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* If you decide to use a living Christmas tree this year, keep it outside in a sunny location until Christmas week. This reduces stress on the young tree.

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