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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 5


Apple trees may need thinning to allow fruit to fully develop.
(Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Smoky skies temper heat in peak of summer


After a super-hot July, this first week of August may feel downright balmy. High temperatures are expected to hover just above normal; August averages 91 degrees in Sacramento.

Part of that weather picture is due to the smoke cover from nearby wildfires. Acting like clouds, all that haze can bring down afternoon heat.

Recent triple-digit days may have taken a toll on fruit trees. Concentrate this week on making them more comfortable -- and bountiful:
* Deep-water trees. Make sure moisture reaches at least 6 inches down at the tree’s dripline, the outer edge of its leaf canopy.
* Replenish mulch if necessary. Ideally, trees like 3 to 4 inches deep of organic material (such as shredded leaves or bark). Don’t let it mound around trunks; that can promote crown rot.
A last round of fertilizer will help citrus trees.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)
* Feed citrus trees their last round of fertilizer for the year. This will give a boost to the fruit that’s now forming. Always deep-water before applying fertilizer.
* Recent heat prompted trees to drop fruit, too. Pick it up. This cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot.
* Thin apples and pears to allow fruit to fully develop. Watch out for codling moths.
* Wash harvested fruit, tomatoes and vegetables carefully to remove any soot or grit from wildfires.
* Feed stone-fruit trees (peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, etc.) with slow-release fertilizer for better production for next year. (Remember: Water first.)

What to plant?
* Outdoors, direct seed bush beans, beets, carrots, leaf lettuce and turnips. Keep soil evenly moist until they sprout. Plant potatoes.
* Indoors, start seedlings for fall vegetable planting, including bunching onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radicchio and lettuce.
* Pick tomatoes, squash, peppers, beans, corn, tomatillos and more. This is your garden’s peak summer production.

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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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