More triple-digit heat coming soon; plan accordingly
Tasty and prolific, Juliet tomatoes hold well on the vine. But harvesting encourages continued fruit set.
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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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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