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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 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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