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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 18


If your melons are close to ripening, be sure not to overwater them. In fact, you can cut back the water a bit.
This prevents mushy flesh and splitting. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Following toasty temperatures, show your garden some TLC



After that mid-week spike into triple digits, this weekend’s cooldown will feel particularly refreshing, for both people and plants.

Those high temperatures toasted blooms and hastened some annuals to an early demise. Perennials and bulbs died back quickly.

Take advantage of this cooler weather to show your garden some TLC.

Deadhead roses and trim off other spent flowers such as daisies and asters. Cut back daylily stems as well as other lilies as they brown.

Have your bearded irises stopped blooming or had fewer flowers this past spring? It’s time to divide and rejuvenate their beds. Irises need dividing every three or four years; August is ideal for this task. Dig in a little compost before replanting the rhizomes.

For irises staying in place, trim back their browned leaves to prepare for new growth.

Also in mid-August:

* Feed citrus trees their last round of fertilizer for the year. This will give a boost to the fruit that's now forming.

* Harvest tomatoes, beans, squash, pepper and eggplant.

* Keep an eye on melons; they can ripen rapidly in this weather. Too much water can cause them to split.

* Fertilize fall-blooming perennials. Chrysanthemums can be fed until the buds start to open.

* Indoors, start seedlings for fall vegetable planting, including bunching onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radicchio and lettuce.

* Plant onions, leaf lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Remember to water; morning or evening is best. Check the soil before pulling out the hose.

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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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