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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 28

This Red Pride, a determinate tomato, is just about at the end of its production cycle. Keep on eye on your plants
in this heat. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

High heat can hit even sun-loving crops hard

Feel the burn? This weekend’s triple-digit spike in temperatures toasts leaves (and people, too).

Make sure to water early in the morning to keep your vegetables hydrated for the hot afternoon to come.
This ripening tomato got sunburned. Add some temporary
shade for exposed veggies. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Sun scald of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants is common during these conditions. Erect some temporary shade to shield ripening fruit from intense afternoon sun. (See our 5
hacks for quick shade here .)

These 105-degree days may be enough to push some plants over the top. Determinate tomato varieties – those kinds that grow to a certain height and bear their fruit all at once – may be nearing the end of their cycle. (An example in my garden: Red Pride.) Keep an eye on those vines; they can die back quickly. After harvest, pull out the plant; it likely won’t produce more tomatoes even if green and healthy.

The good news: This heat wave is only temporary. According to the National Weather Service, we’ll quickly slip back into the low 90s for the rest of the week and next weekend. If you can put off chores until then, do it.

What should you concentrate on when you do get outdoors this week?

* Water deeply. Make sure moisture is penetrating soil at least 6 inches and reaching roots.

* Harvest summer squash promptly; it will keep the bush or vines producing.

* Harvest garlic and onions; pull the bulbs before they flower.

* Pick tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and other summer favorites. When temperatures cool, many varieties will set more fruit.

* Pick up and discard dropped fruit around trees; it attracts pests and critters.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for more blooms in fall.

* Start fall veggies indoors, including cabbage, broccoli and lettuce.

* Outdoors, there’s still time to plant pumpkins, winter squash, corn, beans and sunflowers.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

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

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* 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 help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* 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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