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Garden Checklist: While it’s hot, think cool season plants

Cut back on watering watermelons as they get close to ripening.
Cut back on watering watermelons as they get close to ripening. Bigstock

Are you already burned out on summer and triple-digit weather? Think cool – as in fall and winter vegetables.

When we get the next break from 100-degree days, start to transplant seedlings for such fall favorites as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and celery. Indoors, plant seeds for leaf lettuce, chard, kohlrabi and other fall crops, to be transplanted later.

Sow seeds for head lettuce, parsnips, rutabaga, beets and turnips directly in the ground. The warm soil will get them off to a fast start.

▪  Don’t forget your squash and tomatoes! Keep an eye on summer veggies as they grow and ripen quickly in all this heat. Harvest tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, cucumbers and beans. That also prompts plants to produce more!

▪  As melons start to fully ripen, cut back on water. Too much water in the later stages of development can cause them to split.

▪  Clean up the summer flower garden. Remove spent flowers on daylilies, roses and other summer bloomers.

▪  After removing spent flowers, fertilize roses to kick-start another bloom cycle; remember to give them a deep watering before feeding. Roses dead-headed now will have new blooms in six to eight weeks.

▪  Dig and divide overcrowded irises and bulbs after the foliage dies back.

▪  Pick caterpillars off tomatoes and other vegetables before they have time to do significant damage.

▪  Blast aphids off plants with a jet of water or squirt them with insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” add 1 tablespoon of liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap or Ivory dishwashing liquid) to 1 quart water. Put in a spray bottle and shake before using. Bug soap works while combating stink bugs, too.

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