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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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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