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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 31

August starts with cooler temperatures and opportunity to get things done

Green oranges on tree
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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Garden Checklist for week of July 14

Your garden needs you!

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Feed vegetable plants bone meal, rock phosphate or other fertilizers high in phosphate to stimulate more blooms and fruiting. (But wait until daily high temperatures drop out of the 100s.)

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week.

* Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more. Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* It's not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers.

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