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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 Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

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

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* 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.

* 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 eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* 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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