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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 11


Big Mama tomatoes like this milder August weather. Keep on eye on what's happening in your garden. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Vegetables love this weather; so do bugs



Tomatoes are ripening in bunches. Summer squash and beans seem to be multiplying overnight. Peppers and eggplant are hanging heavy on the bush.

Our relatively mild August days and nights have brought out the best in summer gardens. Our plants love it and we love the results.

With temperatures back in the 80s and low 90s, tomatoes think it’s early summer, not mid-August. Many varieties will start blooming again and likely will produce more fruit.

These are days when we need to pay close attention to what’s happening in our gardens, not just to take advantage of the harvest, but to head off any problems.

Keep an eye out for bugs and pests; fallen fruit attracts flies and critters. All sorts of things will attack ripe tomatoes, from snails to raccoons.

Go on garden patrol in the early morning or evening. Watch out for caterpillars and hornworms. They can strip a bush bare in one day. Pick them off plants by hand. (Wear gloves).

Another thing that loves this weather? Weeds! They’re growing faster than zucchini. Pull them out before they go to seed.

Sacramento weather is expected to remain in the low 90s for several days. What else may need attention?

* Camellia leaves looking a little yellow? Feed them some chelated iron. That goes for azaleas and gardenias, too.

* Pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals to lengthen their summer bloom.

* Deadhead roses, then deep water; they’ll produce new flowers in six to eight weeks.

* To prolong bloom into fall, feed begonias, fuchsias, annuals and container plants. Always water before fertilizing.

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

* Prepare for a fall full of flowers by paying a little extra attention to your garden. Cut off spent blooms from roses, annuals and perennials, then give them a boost of fertilizer. Make sure to water plants before feeding. Roses will rebloom about six to eight weeks after deadheading.

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

* Sow seeds of perennials in pots for fall planting including yarrow, coneflower and salvia.

* In the garden, direct seed beets, bush beans, carrots, leaf lettuce and turnips. Plant potatoes.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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