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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 14

Hot August days and nights will stress gardens and gardeners

Two light yellow peppers on plants with straw mulch
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:
Kathy Morrison)

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 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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