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Choice of Open Gardens this next week at Fair Oaks Horticulture Center

Morning and late afternoon events showcase blooming Horticulture Center

Sall yellow flowers
See what's blooming at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center this Saturday morning
or on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 18. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Weather swings notwithstanding, May is gorgeous at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. Over the next seven days, the Sacramento County master gardeners offer two opportunities to view the demonstration garden at its spring best.

This Saturday, May 14, the Open Garden will be at the usual time: 9 a.m. to noon. Then on Wednesday, May 18, for the first time FOHC will be open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., for visitors coming home from work or school, or folks interested in a pleasant stroll before dinner.  At both events, all areas of the one-acre Horticulture Center will be staffed, with master gardeners ready to answer all types of gardening questions.

Expect to see plenty of pollinators in the Water Efficient Landscape area.  Master gardeners there are creating a model wildlife habitat garden for a home landscape with plantings, bee and bird houses. In the Orchard, crop thinning will be taking place. Ask about fighting pests such as codling moth!

The Vegetable Garden will have the burgeoning summer crops on view. The Compost Area team will offer tips for success, as well as answer questions on California's new composting law. (That goes into effect in July.) The Berry Area, Herb Garden and Vineyard also will be busy -- it's that time of year!

Water use is of course a big topic for gardeners. Throughout the Horticulture Center, visitors will see ways to use water more wisely with mulch, irrigation techniques and water-efficient landscaping.

The Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is at 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks, south of Fair Oaks Park and Madison Avenue.

For more information or directions to the Open Garden days, go to https://sacmg.ucanr.edu/ .

-- Kathy Morrison

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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