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It's not too late to plant a garden

Pumpkin patch
Plant seeds now and grow your own pumpkin patch. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Midsummer possibilities: Corn, pumpkins, winter squash

Happy July! Usually this month ushers in a whirlwind of summer activities including the State Fair. Due to COVID concerns, it looks like we'll be staying close to home, just as we have for the past three months.

Is it too late to plant a vegetable garden?

It's never too late -- or too early -- to plant a garden in Sacramento. It just depends on what you plan to plant.

July represents a month of possibilities, especially when the weather has cooled just a bit. While tomatoes and peppers are producing their first harvests, several other warm weather crops are just now going into the ground.

What to plant now?

Corn: Planted now, it will produce ears around Labor Day. Corn needs other stalks nearby for pollination. For best results, plant in blocks (such as 12 by 12 plants) instead of single or double rows. Corn needs a lot of water, so make sure sprouts stay well watered.

This is prime pumpkin planting weather. Seeded now, they'll be ready for Halloween -- or a little earlier. They like a mound layered with aged compost or manure and room to roam; their vines can cover easily cover a 10-foot-square space. To thrive, those fast-growing vines need deep watering twice a week.

Winter squash:
Butternut, acorn and other favorites can go in the ground now for fall harvest. Treat them like pumpkins, their close cousins.

Sunflowers with bee
Sunflowers work as both summer and early fall
flowers. Bees like them anytime.
They're fast and fun. Planted now, they'll produce big fall bouquets. And the bees will thank you.

Radishes: The fastest-growing vegetable in the garden is fun for kids. They'll be ready to pick in August.

Want more flowers? It's not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

Just remember to keep everything consistently watered and mulched. Then, plan on enjoying a fall harvest from your summer shut-in garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

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

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* 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 fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* 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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