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Heat speeding up harvest; what to do?

Free Zoom workshop tackles stone fruit preservation

Ripe apricots
Avalanche of apricots, plethora of peaches: The heat has accelerated harvest times for stone fruit.
Learn how to save your harvest in free Zoom classes this Saturday or July 21. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
This intense heat is making summer fruit literally fall from the trees.

Apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches and other stone fruit are ripening two or more weeks ahead of schedule. (Cherries, always the first to ripen, are pretty much done.) In addition, heat-stressed trees of all sorts are shedding immature fruit.

Knowing that the harvest may arrive early, what are you going to do with all that fruit?

Learn how to preserve stone fruit of all kinds during a free Zoom workshop, presented by the UC Master Food Preservers of San Joaquin County.

Set for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 19, this two-hour workshop will cover the basics of stone fruit preservation, including freezing, canning and drying. Master food preservers will discuss what makes a fruit a “stone fruit,” with tips specific to keeping peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, cherries and their relatives looking and tasting their best for future use.

The class is free, but advance registration is required; participants can sign up right until the workshop begins. Once registered, participants will receive an email with the necessary Zoom link.

To sign up, go to or the Master Food Preservers website, .

For more on food preservation and links to more virtual workshops: .

Can’t make Saturday’s class? The UC Master Food Preservers of Sacramento County will present their own virtual stone fruit workshop at 6:30 p.m. July 21. Registration for that free Zoom class is coming soon. Details: .


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Garden Checklist for week of June 23

Get to work in the mornings while it’s still cool.

* Irrigate early in the day; your plants will appreciate it.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the early hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes. 

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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