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New (locally produced) videos packed with garden info

Master gardeners talk fruit protection, straw bales and more

Woman in blue shirt holding a long bamboo pole
UCCE master gardener Wendy Wilson explains the simple tools needed to net a fruit tree. (Screengrab from Sacramento County master gardeners YouTube channel)

Have you checked out the Sacramento County master gardeners' YouTube channel lately? Four new videos have been added to the 30 already there.  They each tackle an important gardening question for this time of year

1) Netting Fruit Trees: An Easy and Inexpensive Method. Are the birds and squirrels eyeing your ripening tree crop? Master gardener Wendy Wilson demonstrates how to protect the fruit, on a 7-foot-tall cherry tree. (The master gardener Orchard Team recommends keeping fruit trees to this height for ease of picking and maintenance.)

2) Straw Bale Gardening, Part 1: Preparing the Bales. Master gardener Gail Pothour has been setting up straw bale gardens at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center for a number of years, growing everything from sweet potatoes to tomatoes in them. She takes viewers through the process of conditioning the straw bales. Great information on the difference between hay and straw, too. Here's the printed guide she mentions in the video. A second video is planned on planting and growing in the bales.

3) Blueberries: Amending Your Soil's pH. Blueberries are picky about their soil -- they need a pH level of 4.5 to 5.5, which is acidic. Master gardener Marta Kravech explains why and how to get the soil acidic enough for blueberries to perform their best.

4) Maintaining a Weed-Free Lawn. Master gardener Sherry Dunn discusses the most common lawn weeds, plus offers mowing tips and information on herbicides.

The previously posted master gardener videos on YouTube contain a wealth of gardening tips. Here are 3 that are relevant right now:

-- Thinning Fruit on Your Fruit Trees. Thinning keeps fruit trees healthy and prevents breakage of limbs.

-- What's Wrong With My Tomatoes? This video tackles environmental disorders such as catfacing, blossom end rot, cracking and sunscald.

-- Harvest and Rejuvenate Your Lavender. Ruth Ostroff and Vivian Sellers of the master gardeners' Herb Team show the best way to keep lavender healthy.

-- Kathy Morrison

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* 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.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

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

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* 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.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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