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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 2

Red-hot start could make July challenging

A two-tone zinnia catches the early morning light. There's still time to plant zinnias and other flowers for summer color, but wait until it cools off a bit later in the week.

A two-tone zinnia catches the early morning light. There's still time to plant zinnias and other flowers for summer color, but wait until it cools off a bit later in the week. Kathy Morrison

Stay hydrated. That advice applies both to plants and people as we’re on high heat alert through Sunday night.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento is in the midst of its first triple-digit heat wave of 2023. Downtown hit 104 degrees Friday and 107 is forecast Saturday. Some Sacramento area communities could see 110 degrees.

Last Sunday (June 25), Sacramento’s high was only 76 degrees. That’s a 30-degree jump.

June saved its hottest day for last. “At 1:30 p.m. today, downtown Sac hit 100ºF!! First time this year!” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Friday afternoon. “We just ended a 293-day streak of below 100 temps. This is the 2nd longest streak since 2000. HOT DOG!”

Fortunately, these triple-digit days won’t last. By Tuesday’s Fourth of July holiday, Sacramento’s forecast high is 94 degrees. Normal for July: 92.

Take advantage of cooler temperatures in the early morning to get things done. (Or wait until next weekend if possible.)

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

* Don’t fertilize during a heat wave; wait a week before feeding hungry veggies.

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

* Avoid blossom end rot by keeping fast-developing vegetables evenly watered.

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

* Expect a gap in tomato production; pollen tends to dry out when temperatures hit 95 degrees and fewer tomatoes will set.

* If your melons and squash aren't setting fruit, give the bees a hand. With a small, soft paintbrush, gather some pollen from male flowers, then brush it inside the female flowers, which have a tiny swelling at the base of their petals. (That's the embryo melon or squash.) Within days, that little swelling should start growing.

* 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.

* Later in the week, plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds for instant summer color.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Keep seedlings evenly moist.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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