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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 6

Record heat brings warnings; keep garden and yourself hydrated

Coneflower with wet leaves
Plants will appreciate a morning shower during this heat wave. Coneflowers especially will -- they have rough leaves that easily collect dust and, lately, ash from wildfires. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

The heat is back on this Labor Day weekend with the possibility of more records. Sacramento could see its hottest September day ever; 110 is forecast for Sunday. That's 20 degrees above normal for early September. The previous record for the month: 109.

For the Sacramento region, the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning through Tuesday night. Then, the Delta breeze is expected to start back up, giving us some relief.

In the meantime, drink extra water and avoid outdoor activities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., advises the weather service. Help kids and elderly family or friends stay cool. And pets, too.

That also goes for your garden. Irrigate early. Give plants in containers extra water. Shade maturing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash.

What else should you be doing in your garden this week?

* In these smoky conditions, foliage could use some water, too. Give your plants a morning shower. Rinse off dust, ash and grime.
* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. In this high heat, pick before your crops get overripe.
* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished blooming and producing.
* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.
* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.
* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.
* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds. Make sure to keep them hydrated.
* After the heat wave ends, transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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