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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 12

Spent rose blossoms
Are you feeling as fried as these roses? We are, too. And these need to be deadheaded.
(Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Normal nights help gardens cope with heat

Hot days, comfortable nights; that's our weather pattern for mid-July.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will continue to hit triple digits at least through Tuesday before settling back down into the low to mid 90s.

Fortunately, our overnight temperatures will keep dipping down to about 62 degrees -- normal for July. So, while days may reach 10 degrees above our mid-July average high of 92, those normal nights will refresh plants -- and us.

Those cooler nights also help keep soil and roots comfortable, too.

Until cooler days, concentrate on that comfort factor:

Droopy plant
That's one droopy cosmos. Plants protect themselves in heat by
drooping, but keep them well-watered and they'll snap
back overnight.

* Keep plants hydrated but not soggy. Too much water can harm plants, too; check your moisture levels.
* Water early, preferably before 8 a.m., to cut down on moisture loss.
* Deep water trees, shrubs and perennials. Let the moisture soak in.
* Refresh your mulch. Cover bare spots. Don't let it pile up around trunks or main stems.
* Pick up fallen fruit; it attracts pests and problems.
* 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.
* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.
* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.
* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure seeds stay evenly moist.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

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

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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