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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 March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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