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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 25

In hot weather, harvest crops daily. Tomatoes and other vegetables can
ripen rapidly. The plants also may need some shade to prevent sunburn.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)
Are your plants ready for more triple-digit weather?

Hot! That's the forecast from the National Weather Service as Sacramento faces at least five consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures.

The upper range for the Central Valley is predicted between 98 and 107 degrees for Tuesday, the peak of this heat wave. Keeping us warm, overnight lows are hovering around 70.

Stay hydrated. That goes for you and your garden. Irrigate early in the morning or evening. Try to limit your garden activities to the cooler parts of the day.

Put off major chores and planting until the weather cools back down into the low and mid 90s, the current forecast for next weekend. (Remember: It's not lazy, it's smart.)

What to do while you can:
* Test soil moisture. Use a moisture meter or just a long-handled screwdriver. If it can't penetrate 6 inches, that hard soil is too dry. Deep water where needed.

* Harvest daily. Crops can ripen rapidly in hot weather and quickly go over the top.

* Got watermelons? As they near ripeness, cut back on water for the last two weeks or they may split. Look at the little curly tendril growing opposite the melon on the vine. If it's green and springy, the melon is still growing, so keep watering. If it's yellow, cut back on irrigation. If the tendril is brown, the melon is at full size and ripe.

* Shade ripening tomatoes, eggplant and peppers; they can easily sunburn in this weather.

* Skip the fertilizer this week; it may cause more plant stress than good.

* Check on new transplants; are they getting enough water? Do they need temporary shade?

* Let the lawn grow (if it's growing at all). Longer grass conserves moisture.

* Pick up fallen fruit; it attracts all sorts of pests.


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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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