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Get ready for 'excessive heat' this week

Tips to help keep gardeners, gardens more comfortable in triple-digit weather

A shade cloth (or burlap or a lace tablecloth) hung on a tomato cage can protect developing fruit from sunburn during a heat emergency.

A shade cloth (or burlap or a lace tablecloth) hung on a tomato cage can protect developing fruit from sunburn during a heat emergency.

Kathy Morrison

Are you ready for 109 degrees?

That’s the forecasted high for Sacramento on Saturday, says the National Weather Service. And that won’t be the only super-hot day. The Sacramento region will be under “Excessive Heat Watch” from 11 a.m. Friday through 8 p.m. Monday.

“Widespread MAJOR Heat Risk will impact our area this weekend,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Tuesday. “This heat will be dangerous to anyone without proper hydration and cooling. Reconsider outdoor plans and if you must go outside, take frequent breaks in the shade and drink plenty of water.”

According to the NWS, the Sacramento region can expect “dangerously hot conditions with daytime high temperatures 98 to 113 with overnight lows in the upper 60s to low 80s possible.”

The heat watch includes a wide area: “Sacramento Valley, Northern San Joaquin Valley, Motherlode, Northeast Foothills, Burney Basin, Coastal Range, Delta, Shasta County Mountains, and portions of the West Slope Northern Sierra Nevada and Lassen/Western Plumas Counties for elevations below 4,500 feet.”

So even retreating up into the Sierra won’t bring much relief.

While people (and pets) can retreat indoors, our plants aren’t so lucky. Before Friday, make a point to deep water perennials, shrubs and trees.

Move potted plants into partial shade if possible. Containerized gardens may need daily watering during this heat wave.

Don’t let tomatoes, squash, peppers and other developing fruit dry out completely; that can lead to blossom end rot and other problems.

Here are more hot weather survival tips for gardeners and gardens:

* Stay hydrated! That applies to both you and your garden. Water early in the day – before 8 a.m. if possible – to cut down on evaporation.

* Cycle and soak. Water needs a chance to soak in, especially if you have clay soil. Otherwise, it will run off (and down the drain) instead of reaching roots. Run your irrigation for a short period. Wait an hour or two. Then, run your system again. The water from the second cycle will reach deeper than the first.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! A layer of 3 inches of straw, wood chips, dried leaves or other organic material will keep soil and roots cooler while conserving moisture.

* Shade any sensitive plants and developing fruit on tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash. Your harvest can get sunburned. Protect from intense afternoon rays with temporary shade such as burlap draped over trellises.

* Wilting can be normal. Some big-leafed plants such as squash may seem to wilt every hot afternoon; that’s OK. They recover overnight. It’s when they’re still wilted in the morning that it’s a problem.

* Check the soil before you water. It may look dry on top, but still have enough moisture in the root zone 6 inches below the surface. Plants can suffer from too much water (especially in containers) as well as not enough.

Heat is often on the minds behind Sacramento Digs Gardening. Here are links to several past columns with heat-related advice:

-- Get Ready for Hot Days Ahead

-- Mulch is Good, and More Mulch is Better

-- 5 Hacks for Shading Your Precious Vegetables

-- Hot Tomato! How to Help Your Vines During High Heat

-- Speaking for the Trees: Don't Forget Them in This Heat

-- For Best Roses in Heat, Watch Water and Mites

And if you’re too late:

-- Rescuing  a Heat-Stressed Plant

Finally, for the gardener:

--- Too Hot to Think? Follow These Tips

– Debbie Arrington and Kathy Morrison


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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