Try these tips to stay safe in the garden during the heat – Orange County Register

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Five things to do in the garden this week:

1. You might be tempted to remove seed capsules or fruit from plants that have stopped flowering, but these provide food for birds and other wildlife, so you might consider leaving them alone . Also, sometimes some seeds will sow themselves, so you’ll get free bonus plants from your garden beauties. In my own garden, Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria), Pride of Madeira (Echium fastuosum), Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), Blanket flower (Gaillardia) and Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) grow are self-sown freely over the years with their progeny now scattered throughout the garden. I even dropped a miniature rose from a seed that grew into another small rose bush.

2. Trim grasses to stimulate new growth and save cuttings for future use. Basil cuttings root easily in water, so place them in a glass or vase with a few inches of water at the bottom; you can easily grow basil indoors all year round once you have this technique in hand, which works on both annual and perennial basil species. Mint, sage, thyme, oregano and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) also root easily in water. To store cuttings for culinary purposes, place them in a single layer in a resealable plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator or freezer where they will stay fresh for up to a year. Just make sure the cuttings are dry before sealing them in plastic or they will mold.

3. Make forays into the garden in the early morning or late afternoon and avoid overheating. Applying sunscreen and wearing a hat are also advised. Always wear long sleeves and pants or leggings in the garden. When we get involved in a garden chore, especially pruning, we can throw caution to the wind and dive into a plant, scratch our skin and splinter. For the same reason, eye protection is crucial because a stray stem or twig can sting us in unpredictable ways. Finally, before lifting anything, in order to preserve your back, always bend your legs and make your center of gravity as low as possible, ideally in a squatting position, before getting into the lift.

4. Now that the cherry tomatoes are ripening by the bucket, be sure to go pick them twice a day. This is especially important if your trellis hasn’t provided all the necessary support and some of your tomatoes are dragging on the ground. If you don’t harvest them at ground level, they will rot quickly. Also, the sooner you remove ripe tomatoes from your plants, the faster new tomatoes will form and mature. However, if you notice that the tomatoes are not ripening, perhaps due to heat exhaustion, you may want to remove the new flowers so that the plant’s energy is devoted only to ripening the existing fruit. Once the tomatoes are fully ripe, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to ten days. However, placing unripe tomatoes in the refrigerator will prevent them from ripening and make them rather tasteless.

5. Start thinking about fruit trees and other woody perennials you might want to add to your garden, as fall is the best time to plant them. In autumn, the ground is still hot from summer but the days are shorter and cooler; these conditions are optimal for rapid root expansion, which is the most important factor to consider before planting. Be aware that almost all deciduous fruit trees benefit from an adjacent pollinator tree, even if the tree you select is self-fertile (most plum, peach, nectarine, and apricot varieties, for example). Even if a solitary tree produces a crop, it is likely to produce more fruit when another tree of the same type – although the variety may differ – is planted nearby.

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