Hot August days and nights will stress gardens and gardeners
Harvest peppers to keep the plants producing. These Gypsy
peppers grow at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. Notice the
thick straw mulch that conserves soil moisture. (Photo:
The heat is back on! According to the National Weather Service, expect a string of triple-digit days, perhaps starting as soon as Sunday.
After a warm weekend, Sacramento’s forecast calls for 100 degrees-plus every day through at least Friday, peaking at 104 degrees on Tuesday. Overnight lows are warm, too, staying above 67 degrees.
Average for this week of August in Sacramento: High of 94 and low of 61.
Such heat is sure to stress plants -- and gardeners, too.
The good news? As hot as it will feel, we shouldn’t be flirting with any records. The hottest August day in Sacramento history: 112 degrees (set Aug. 16, 2020).
Get your chores done before 10 a.m. while the morning is still relatively cool. Water early and deeply. Remember to stay hydrated, too.
* Harvest tomatoes, beans, squash, pepper and eggplants to prompt plants to keep producing. Give your plants a deep watering twice a week, more if planted in containers.
* Squash and cucumbers refusing to set fruit? Help the pollinators, who tend not to come out in hot weather. Take a small paint brush, dip it into the center of a flower, twist slightly to gather pollen, then dip that pollen-covered brush into other flowers on the plant.
* Watch out for caterpillars and hornworms in the vegetable garden. They can strip a plant bare in one day. Pick them off plants by hand in early morning or late afternoon.
* Mulch can be your garden's best friend; it conserves moisture while blocking out weeds. But don't let mulch mound around stalks, stems or trunks. That can promote rot.
* Pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals to lengthen their summer bloom.
* Deadhead roses. They’ll be back in bloom in six weeks.
* Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot.
* 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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Dig In: Garden Checklist
For week of March 26:
Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:
* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.
* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.
* 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 help corral blossom blight.
* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.
To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.
* 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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