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Gardeners, here's how to cope with this heat wave

Pretty eggplant can be scorched by the sun -- harvest them before they burn. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Stay hydrated -- both you and your plants

The heat is on! After a very mild August, Sacramento is getting blasted with triple-digit temperatures and the hottest days of the year (so far).

The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings for all of the Sacramento area. With high temperatures expected to top 105 degrees, conditions are described as “dangerous.”

“Heat like this only happens a few times a year,” according to the NWS bulletin. “Heat risk is high across much of the area, even for the general population.

“The rest of this week will see high temperatures in the triple digits in the Valley and some foothill locations,” added the NWS Sacramento office. “Little cooling is expected overnight. Stay hydrated and limit time outdoors if possible.”

Air quality districts also announced “Spare the Air” alerts with unhealthy air quality expected for sensitive groups such as children, seniors or people with heart or lung disease.

In other words, avoid being outdoors. Water plants deeply in the early morning or evening. Pay extra attention to container plants; they can dry out quickly.

Stay hydrated yourself, too. Drink plenty of water (not soda or coffee). When outside, dress in loose, lightweight clothing. Wear a hat and sunscreen.

During this heat wave, bring in your pets; if kept outside, make sure animals have shade and fresh water.

As for your plants, most cope better with heat than people do, as long as they have enough moisture. Check the soil around plants in the morning and water as needed. Avoid adding any fertilizer during this heat spell.

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant can sunburn; harvest them before they bake on the bush.

The good news: This heat wave will be short. According to the NWS, we’ll be back to 89 degrees on Sunday – below normal.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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