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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of July 30

Last days of July seem normal before 'cool' start to August

These are Rugby tomatoes in three stages of ripening. Continue to harvest vegetables to keep the plants producing. Give plants a spray of water in the morning to raise humidity and ward off spider mites.

These are Rugby tomatoes in three stages of ripening. Continue to harvest vegetables to keep the plants producing. Give plants a spray of water in the morning to raise humidity and ward off spider mites. Kathy Morrison

Climatologists say that this may be the hottest July ever recorded on Earth, with intense heat waves in Europe and across North America. In Sacramento, these final days of July will just seem normal – and maybe a little cool.

According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento can expect highs of 97 degrees on Sunday and Monday – average for those dates. Overnight lows will be on the cool side – dipping down to 60 degrees or lower each night. Coupled with breezy conditions, August will start with three consecutive days in the high 80s.

“Slight warming this weekend will bring localized Moderate Heat Risk into Monday,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Saturday. “Temps will then cool back to near/slightly below normal by midweek.”

Make the most of this cooling trend and tackle garden chores.

* Harvest tomatoes, beans, squash, pepper and eggplants to prompt plants to keep producing. Give your plants a deep watering twice a week, more if planted in containers. Also, give them a boost with phosphate-rich fertilizer to help fruiting. (Always water before feeding.)

* Watch out for caterpillars and hornworms in the vegetable garden. They can strip a plant bare in one day. Pick them off plants by hand in early morning or late afternoon.

* Mulch can be your garden's best friend – it conserves moisture while blocking out weeds. But don't let mulch mound around stalks, stems or trunks. That can promote rot.

* Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot. Then feed fruit trees with slow-release fertilizer for better production for next year.

* Feed citrus trees their last round of fertilizer for the year. This will give a boost to the fruit that's now forming.

* Pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals to lengthen their summer bloom.

* Cut off spent blooms from roses, then give them a boost of fertilizer. Roses will rebloom about six to eight weeks after deadheading.

* Indoors, start seedlings for fall vegetable planting, including bunching onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radicchio and lettuce.

* Sow seeds of perennials in pots for fall planting including yarrow, coneflower and salvia.

* In the garden, direct seed beets, bush beans, carrots, leaf lettuce and turnips.

* Plant potatoes.

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Garden Checklist for week of June 23

Get to work in the mornings while it’s still cool.

* Irrigate early in the day; your plants will appreciate it.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the early hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes. 

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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