August starts with cooler temperatures and opportunity to get things done
Give citrus its last dose of fertilizer, but be sure to water the tree deeply beforehand.This also is a good time to thin some of the fruit to prevent breakage of limbs later. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
Say goodbye to triple-digit heat! (At least for a little while.)
Temperatures are expected to continue to cool down for the first week of August. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento won’t even get out of the 80s on Sunday and will stay in the low 90s most of the coming week. Overnight lows are mild, too, dipping down to the mid to low 60s.
That may seem cool after a red-hot July, but it’s actually on the warm side for the month to come. Average for August in Sacramento: High of 91 and low of 58.
Of course, the next warm-up isn’t far away. The weather service predicts 99 degrees next weekend.
Make the most of this mild summer weather by showing your garden some TLC.
*Feed citrus trees their last round of fertilizer for the year. This will give a boost to the fruit that’s now forming. Make sure to water deeply first.
* 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.
* 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.
* Give summer vegetables a boost with phosphate-rich fertilizer to help fruiting. Commercial fertilizers need available moisture in the soil to activate and plants need water to absorb nutrients. Always water before feeding.
* Camellia leaves looking a little yellow? Feed them some chelated iron. That goes for azaleas and gardenias, too.
* Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot. Then, feed fruit trees with slow-release fertilizer for better production for next year.
* Pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals to lengthen their summer bloom.
* Deadhead roses.
* 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.
* Transplant pumpkins.
* Plant potatoes in boxes with straw.
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For week of Dec. 10:
Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!
* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.
* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.
* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.
* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.
* 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. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.
* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.
* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.
* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.
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