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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of June 16

Will you have ripe tomatoes by the Fourth of July? Remember to keep soil evenly moist while tomatoes are developing.
(Photos: Kathy Morrison)
Keep an eye on tomatoes as they ripen in hot weather

Make the most of comparatively mild temperatures this weekend as we continue to ride a weather rollercoaster.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will see high temperatures on Saturday near 85 degrees – normal for mid-June – with overnight lows dipping down to the mid-50s.

By Sunday, the mercury starts zipping up again. Tuesday afternoon, we’ll be back to triple digits (or pretty close).

The forecast then calls for cooling into the low 90s by next weekend.

Thankfully, morning temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s throughout this stretch. Get out early and get things done!

You should see plenty of green tomatoes now.
* Expecting ripe tomatoes by the Fourth of July? Watch your tomatoes closely during these dramatic ups and downs in temperature. Windy conditions can dry out plants, too.

* Prevent problems such as blossom-end rot through steady irrigation. Keep your garden evenly moist (not soggy) through hot spells.

* Water early in the day to make the most of that moisture. Morning irrigation allows for more water to soak in, not evaporate. It also cuts down on fungal disease.

* Speaking of fungal disease, high heat will make several different fungal diseases disappear. That includes powdery mildew on roses. Remove infected leaves (including any that make have accumulated under bushes) and water deeply. The bush should grow out new healthy leaves.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants on cooler mornings; always water deeply before fertilizing.

*Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* Harvest fruit before the birds and critters get it. Pick up fallen fruit; it attracts pests.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, squash, melons and sunflowers.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.


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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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