Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening Article
Your resource for Sacramento-area gardening news, tips and events

Articles Recipe Index Keyword Index Calendar Twitter Facebook Instagram About Us Contact Us

Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 12

With so much ash and dust that's been in the air,
plants can use a good morning rinse.
Smoke and heat: What Sacramento gardeners need to know now

Recent gardening conditions have been brutal – at least for gardeners. Air you can see does not feel fresh.

As long as the Central Valley fills with smoke from California wildfires, it’s better to stay inside. When we do venture out to the garden, make it in the morning when the air quality seems a little better and plants benefit the most from our attention.

The good news from the National Weather Service: No more triple-digit days are forecast for August. That doesn’t mean another 100-degree afternoon can’t sneak in (especially around Labor Day), but the immediate forecast sees a cool down into the near-normal low 90s and high 80s. That’s great for gardening – once the smoke clears for good.

Put these tasks on your to-do list:

* Rinse off plant foliage to remove accumulated ash and dust. Do this in the early morning, so leaves can dry quickly.

* Look out for spider mites, particularly on the underside of leaves. These tiny but voracious pests love hot, dry, dusty conditions. Local gardeners have reported spider mite outbreaks on tomatoes and rose bushes. If you see these mites (or more likely mite damage), spray with cold water to knock them off foliage.

* Avoid using pesticides, miticides, fungicides or other chemical sprays during hot and smoky weather. Same goes for horticultural oils. They may do more harm than good, “cooking” the foliage you’re trying to protect. If you must spray, wait until cooler conditions. Never spray on a windy day and always wear protective clothing with arms and legs fully covered.

* Wash well any harvested vegetables and fruit to remove smoke residue. Even with washing, tomatoes and grapes may have a smoky taste.

These watermelons look ready to harvest: The brown tendrils are the giveaway.
See checklist item. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)
* Give tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash and other summer workhorses a deep watering, then a boost of liquid fertilizer such as compost tea. They’ll need that extra energy for a last round of produce.

* Watch your watermelons. Vines start to wither as the melons ripen. Cut back on water as the melons near maturity, otherwise they may burst by soaking up too much moisture. The surest sign of a ripe melon is the tendril closest to the fruit. (The tendril is a little curly stem that helps the vine climb.) If the tendril is half brown, the melon is ready to pick or close to it; all brown, the melon is as ripe as it’s going to get. Harvest melons with a sharp knife to cut the thick stem.

* While spending more time indoors, propagate additions to your fall garden. Start seedlings for 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.


0 comments have been posted.

Welcome, Green Acres!

Green Acres Fall ad

Newsletter Subscription

Sacramento Digs Gardening to your inbox.

Taste Fall! E-cookbook

Muffins and pumpkin

Find our fall recipes here!

Local News

Ad for California Local

Thanks to our sponsor!

Summer Strong ad for

Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

Taste Spring! E-cookbook


Find our spring recipes here!

Taste Summer! E-cookbook


Find our summer recipes here!