Keep an eye on soil moisture and your vegetable garden. Even with drought restrictions, don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely; that can encourage blossom-end rot. How much water do tomatoes need? Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week and a little more if they look droopy. If your tomato plants are on a drip-irrigation system, figure a gallon per mature (and bearing) plant per day. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce chances of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.
• Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more. Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather; keep an eye on the zucchini.
• If your melons and squash aren’t setting fruit, give the bees a hand. With a small, soft paintbrush, gather some pollen from male flowers, then brush it inside the female flowers, which have a tiny swelling at the base of their petals (that’s the embryo melon or squash). Within days, that little swelling should start growing.
• It’s not too late to get a few more veggies in the ground. Plant seeds for corn, lima beans, okra, parsnips, pumpkin, summer and winter squash, and watermelon. In the Sacramento area, the biggest Halloween pumpkins are traditionally planted the week of July Fourth. (That means now!) Remember: Those seedlings will need extra attention and moisture to make it through July’s heat. Don’t let them totally dry out.
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• Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.
– Debbie Arrington