Make most of mild weather before triple-digit heat returns Friday
Bees double team a squash blossom, assuring pollination. If your zucchini aren't setting, try pollinating by hand (with the help of a paintbrush).
Consider this weekend a window of opportunity. If you need to tackle some outdoor chores, do it now. Because triple-digit heat is returning soon – just in time for the California State Fair.
According to the National Weather Service, the Sacramento region will stretch its streak of below-normal temperatures through Monday; that will make seven consecutive days in the 80s. Our normal high for mid July: 95 degrees.
But this respite will end Tuesday when highs are expected to jump into the high 90s. The weather service predicts 101 degrees for Friday, the State Fair’s opening day.
Make the most of these relatively cool days – especially in the mornings when temperatures will be in the 70s.
* 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 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.
* 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.
* 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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For week of Oct. 1:
Make the most of this cooler weather. Get to work on your fall garden:
* October is the best month to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Plants become established – sending down deep, strong roots – faster in warm soil.
* Divide and replant perennials. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to the planting hole, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.
* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.
* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.
* Plant garlic and onions.
* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.
* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.
* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioli, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.
* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.
* Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.
* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.
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