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Sacramento catches a break in hottest July on record

Weather roller-coaster continues; triple-digit temperatures return this weekend

At Harvest Day 2022, master gardeners Peggy Ruud, left, and Debi Brakebill were among the greeters handing out gift bags at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. Visitors at Harvest Day this Saturday also will receive gift bags.

At Harvest Day 2022, master gardeners Peggy Ruud, left, and Debi Brakebill were among the greeters handing out gift bags at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. Visitors at Harvest Day this Saturday also will receive gift bags.

Kathy Morrison

We’re riding a weather roller-coaster. After another warm weekend to end July, temperatures are expected to dip into the low 80s for parts of the greater Sacramento area before returning to triple digits by week’s end -- and Harvest Day.

Saturday’s forecast will be in the range of 97 to 105 degrees, says the National Weather Service. Sunday will be even hotter.

Harvest Day, the Sacramento region's biggest free gardening event, is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5, at Fair Oaks Horticulture Center in Fair Oaks Park. The forecast high: 102 degrees at 5 p.m. 

The first week of August follows a yo-yo weather pattern of temperature dips and spikes that we’ve seen all summer, including four times in July. We saw record highs (107 each time) on July 1 and July 16, but we also saw record overnight lows (53 twice) on July 9 and 10. (The high on July 9 was an almost-shivery 76 degrees.)

The warmer days outnumbered the below-average ones; 17 days recorded highs above average for their dates. July’s high temperatures averaged 94.3 – almost two degrees above average for this month in Sacramento.

“Remember, even normal temperatures this time of year are still quite warm and can cause heat-related illnesses,” tweeted the NWS Sacramento office on Monday morning. “Be sure to stay cool & hydrated!”

Compared to other places, Sacramento got off easy during what will be remembered as a red-hot July. Climate scientists estimate that July 2023 is the hottest month ever recorded on Earth with three continents – North America, Europe and Asia – experiencing deadly heat waves. Last week, heat advisories or warnings were issued for the home communities of more than 128 million Americans.

Some heat has been truly extreme: Phoenix recorded highs of 110 degrees or hotter every single day in July, hitting 119 degrees three times. Helping to maintain that record heat, overnight lows stayed above 90 degrees on 19 nights.

Fortunately for the greater Sacramento area, August is expected to be a more normal month with most days in the low to mid 90s – thanks to the Delta breeze.

Those lower temperatures literally take the heat off our tomatoes, peppers and other summer crops. It still will be warm enough for steady ripening and harvest, but cool enough for these plants to also set more fruit. For example, tomatoes need temperatures below 95 degrees to set.

Keep your garden evenly hydrated – not too wet but never completely dry. Provide afternoon shade if possible for developing tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

And start planning and planting for fall; those little lettuce seeds sprout faster in warm soil.

For more on Sacramento weather:


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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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