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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 19


Feed your begonias now for more late summer and fall blooms. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Enjoy end of summer while focusing on fall



Mid-August garden chores focus on rejuvenation. Your fall garden starts now, but you still want to enjoy the final long days of summer.

Here's how to help your landscape get ready for autumn (and look good during the last of the summer heat):

* Deep water plants, especially large shrubs and trees. Check the soil visually -- with a long screwdriver, trowel or soil probe -- to make sure moisture is reaching 6 inches deep or more.

* Always water before feeding plants, even with liquid fertilizers. Roots need moisture to pick up nutrients. Otherwise, added fertilizer may do more harm than good.

* Camellia leaves looking a little yellow? Feed them some chelated iron. That goes for azaleas and gardenias, too.

* Cut off spent blooms from roses, then give them a boost of fertilizer. Roses will rebloom about six to eight weeks after deadheading.

* Pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals to lengthen their summer bloom and tidy up garden beds.

* Feed begonias, fuchsias, annuals and container plants to prompt another round of flowers.

* Fertilize fall-blooming perennials, too. Chrysanthemums can be fed until the buds start to open.

What to plant now:

* Indoors, start seedlings for fall vegetable planting, including bunching onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radicchio and lettuce.

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

* In the garden, direct seed beets, carrots, leaf lettuce and turnips. Plant potatoes.

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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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