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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of Aug. 26


A Mardi Gras rose looks especially vibrant in the diffused light created by our smoky haze. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Enjoy last days of summer, start seriously thinking fall



Enjoy these mild final days of summer as Sacramento temperatures settle into the low 80s most of this week.

That’s ideal weather to get outside and enjoy your garden – and get started on fall.

Hazy conditions continue due to wildfire smoke settling into the Central Valley. While breezes make air quality bearable, that haze is helping to moderate temperatures.

It’s also creating unusual light for outdoor photography, casting an orange glow. Take some pictures of your garden, especially flowers with yellow, red or orange blooms or plants with variegated foliage.

Before you snap those shots, dead-head roses and pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals. They’ll look better – and may keep blooming a little longer.

Other items for your to-do list:

* Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot. Then feed fruit trees with slow-release fertilizer for better production for next year. Water deeply.

* Apples and pears are ripening earlier than normal. That means those trees are also dropping fruit now. Any “worms” you may see likely are codling moth larvae. Pick up and dispose of those infected apples and pears. It will cut down on outbreaks next year.

* Plant onions, leaf lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Sow seeds of perennials in pots for fall planting including yarrow, coneflower and salvia.

* Directly in the garden, sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

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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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