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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 30

August ends with hazy days before another heat wave

Harvest basket
The vegetables may look a little ragged this late in the season -- and the air a
bit smoky, even in the morning -- but keep harvesting to prompt plants
to continue producing. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)



After unbearable conditions most of this month, the last few days of August feel (almost) comfortable.
Lingering wildfire smoke continues to keep our skies hazy (and air quality unhealthy for sensitive people).

But a fog bank off the coast and some Delta breeze have kept high temperatures in the low 90s, average for late August. The haze lowered temperatures a degree or two, too.

Enjoy these low 90s while you can. The National Weather Service forecasts a string of triple-digit days starting Tuesday and lasting through Labor Day, with afternoon highs 10 to 15 degrees above normal.

Concentrate your garden chores on Sunday and Monday, then prepare for another heat wave.

* Harvest tomatoes, beans, squash, pepper and eggplants to prompt plants to keep producing.
* Give your plants a deep watering twice a week, more if planted in containers.
* Consider pulling unproductive or spent plants in the vegetable garden. Tomatoes won't set in triple-digit heat. Make room for fall planting.
* Cut off spent blooms from roses, annuals and perennials. Roses will rebloom about six to eight weeks after deadheading.
* Divide and replant bearded irises.
* Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot.
* Watch out for caterpillars and hornworms in the vegetable garden. They can strip a plant bare in one day. Pick them off plants by hand in early morning or late afternoon.
* Knock spider mites and their webs off plants with a blast of water. Do this in the morning for best results.
* Wash any accumulated ash from wildfires off leaves.
* Sow seeds of perennials in pots for fall planting including yarrow, coneflower and salvia.
* Indoors, start seedlings for fall vegetable planting, including bunching onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radicchio and lettuce.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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