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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of June 9


Straw mulch retains soil moisture and keeps roots cool during hot weather. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)
Help your garden cope with triple-digit heat



The heat is on! After several days of relatively mild temperatures, triple-digit highs are in the immediate forecast – about 15 degrees above normal for mid-June.

Is your garden ready?

Help your tomatoes and other veggies cope with these tips:

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot. On average, each tomato plant needs about five gallons a week.


Tomato flowers may not set fruit during triple-digit days.
* One consequence of hot weather: Tomatoes may drop their flowers without setting fruit. Tomato pollen loses its fertility over 95 degrees.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather. Mulch can help reduce heat stress.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Make sure to water first.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

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

* Plant basil transplants to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias. They’ll help attract pollinators to your summer vegetables.

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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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