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Garden Checklist: Keep an eye on tomatoes in hot weather

Successful August gardening is a balancing act between heat and plant needs. That’s a real challenge during drought. You can still keep your tomatoes happy while saving water.

Keep an eye on your vines during hot weather. Tomatoes can wilt easily when the temperature hits triple digits but will usually bounce back overnight. The goal is to keep soil moisture levels consistent and avoid issues such as blossom end rot. Give your plants a deep watering two times a week, more if they grow in containers. A mature bearing tomato plant needs about 5 gallons a week.

Elsewhere in the garden this week:

Give vegetable plants a boost with phosphate-rich fertilizer to help fruiting. Always water before feeding.

Keep picking squash, eggplants and peppers to encourage plants to bear more.

Get started on the fall vegetable garden. Plant seeds for beets, carrots, Chinese cabbage, head lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas and turnips.

Plant lettuce and spinach in flats in part shade, then transplant to sunnier spots for fall salads.

Start asters, salvias and violas indoors for fall transplanting.

Watch out for hornworms and caterpillars in the vegetable garden. Hand- pick them off plants in early morning or late afternoon.

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