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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 7

Remember to water; Sacramento could be in midst of record heat wave

Keep an eye on zucchini and other summer squashes in this heat -- they can grow quickly. This variety is "Cube of Butter" summer squash.

Keep an eye on zucchini and other summer squashes in this heat -- they can grow quickly. This variety is "Cube of Butter" summer squash. Kathy Morrison

Scorching: that’s the holiday weekend forecast for most of California – the Sacramento Valley included.

Forecast highs for Saturday range up to 120 degrees in Redding; that makes Sacramento’s 113 sound almost reasonable.

This weekend, Sacramento could tie or even surpass a nearly century-old record. The hottest July day ever recorded in Sacramento was 114 on July 17, 1925. We’re also on track to tie or beat Sacramento’s record for longest heat wave – 11 consecutive triple-digit days. (That was set in July 2009.) If it tops 100 on Friday, July 12, as expected, that makes 12 straight. The “coolest” day this coming week is Monday’s 101.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento is locked into hot weather pattern prolonged by warm nights and little breeze. Not only are days more than 10 degrees above normal, but nights are, too.

Winds are supposed to pick up a little midweek. But instead of cooling us off, gusty conditions heighten fire danger – which already is extreme.

Don’t use power equipment outdoors where there’s any danger of sparks, warns the weather service. Don’t park vehicles on dry grass; one stray spark can start a wildfire.

Meanwhile, 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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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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