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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Aug. 13

More triple-digit heat coming soon; plan accordingly

Tasty and prolific, Juliet tomatoes hold well on the vine. But harvesting encourages continued fruit set.

Tasty and prolific, Juliet tomatoes hold well on the vine. But harvesting encourages continued fruit set. Kathy Morrison

Hopefully, you got what you needed to get done last week because we’re going to start heating up again.

After some pleasant days in the mere 80s, we’re headed back to triple digits. According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento is expected to hit 105 on Tuesday. That’s 14 degrees above normal for mid August. But by Friday, we’ll be back down to a forecast high of 90 degrees – and a very pleasant weekend.

This spiky heat can play havoc with tomatoes; they can’t set new fruit when it tops 95 because their pollen dries out. But the warmth will bring on rapid ripening of fruit that’s already on the vine. Keep plants picked and hydrated.

Until temperatures cool back down, plan to take care of garden tasks in the morning, then retreat indoors out of the sun. Most chores can wait until then.

* What can’t wait: Ripe veggies and fruit. 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 these veggies 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 the early morning or late afternoon.

* 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 next year.

* 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.

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

* Camellia leaves looking a little yellow? Feed them some chelated iron. That goes for azaleas and gardenias, too.

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

* To prolong bloom into fall, feed begonias, fuchsias, annuals and container plants.

* Fertilize fall-blooming perennials, too. Chrysanthemums can be fed until the buds start to open.

* 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, radishes and turnips.

* Plant potatoes.

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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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