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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 19



Pattypan squash
Keep an eye on squash in the heat. That pattypan squash could be the size of a salad plate in no time at all. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Heat is normal for mid July; take advantage of coming cooldown



Mid July represents the peak of Sacramento heat. The next three weeks average higher temperatures than any other time of the year -- including afternoon highs of 94 degrees.

This week also held a milestone. The hottest day in Sacramento history -- a scorching 114 degrees -- was recorded on July 17, 1925, just 95 years ago.

So what are we complaining about? With a spike here and there, recent July weather has been totally normal. Expect another mild spike this weekend before several days in the low 90s or cooler.

It's time to get things done:

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Water, then fertilize vegetables and blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs to give them a boost. Feeding flowering plants every other week will extend their season. Bone meal and other fertilizers high in phosphates will help stimulate bloom.

* 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.

*Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* For late summer color, put in petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds as transplants.

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


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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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