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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 2

Small yellow tomatoes
Keep cherry tomatoes and others harvested to keep the plant producing. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

July really was hot; expect a normal August

It wasn't your imagination. If you thought this summer felt hotter than usual, you're right!

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento daily highs in July averaged 96.9 degrees, 3.6 degrees above normal. We endured 10 days in triple digits, topped by two days (July 11 and 12) at 106.

We weren't the only folks who saw baking-hot temperatures. Redding, for example, had 21 triple-digit days in July, including 111 on July 15. Redding highs averaged 101 degrees for the month.

Fortunately, Sacramento overnight lows stayed normal -- 61 degrees. That nightly cooldown kept mornings (and soil) comfortable.

As for the week ahead? After a few more hot days, our afternoons will settle down into the low 90s with overnights dipping down into the 50s. That's normal; our August highs average 91 degrees with lows of 58.

Don't expect any rain soon. Our August precipitation averages 0.05 inches.

What to do during cool mornings this week:

* Harvest tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers and eggplants to prompt plants to keep producing.

* Feed citrus trees their last round of fertilizer for the year. This will give a boost to the fruit that's now forming.

* Pick up after your other fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot. Then feed fruit trees with slow-release fertilizer for better production for next year.

* If camellia leaves are looking a little yellow, give them some chelated iron. That goes for azaleas and gardenias, too.

* Fertilize fall-blooming perennials, too. Chrysanthemums can be fed until the buds start to open.

* Pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals to lengthen their summer bloom.

Spent rose blooms
Keep roses deadheaded.
* Trim off spent rose blooms.

* Indoors, start seedlings for fall vegetable planting, including bunching onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radicchio and lettuce.

* Sow seeds of perennials in pots for fall planting including yarrow, coneflower and salvia.

* In the garden, direct seed beets, carrots, leaf lettuce and turnips.

* Plant potatoes.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

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

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

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

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

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

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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