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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 24

More hot weather ahead; get out early to monitor garden

Sunburn patches on green tomatoes
These tomatoes had been shaded by foliage -- then
the branch bent under the weight of the fruit.
They were suddenly exposed to afternoon sun and
developed sunburn. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)


It’s hot – what do you expect in late July?

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will flirt with triple digits every day this next week. Some afternoons will top 100 (most likely Sunday, Thursday and Friday), but nothing like what we experienced a week ago.

The good news: Every night will dip down into the low 60s. That assures comfortable mornings. Get out early to water and monitor your garden.

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

* Water, then fertilize vegetables and blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs to give them a boost. Feeding flowering plants every other week will extend their bloom.

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

* Notice sunburn on peppers or tomatoes? Erect temporary shade over sensitive plants as their crop ripens.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Deep-water trees and shrubs. Check soil moisture before irrigating. If you can't push a 6-inch probe or screwdriver into the dirt, it's time to water.

Fruit on ground
Dropped fruit should be picked up and disposed of to avoid pest
problems.

* Pick up and dispose of dropped fruit; it attracts insect and vertebrate pests.

* Let your lawn grow long. Taller blades shade the roots, keeping them cooler. It also allows the lawn to get by with less water.

* 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. Pumpkins planted now should be ready for Halloween.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* 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.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

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

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* 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.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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