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Give UC Davis' Good Life Garden a helping hand

Volunteers needed for spring renovation; learn about vegetable planting

Smiling volunteers
Join in Community Volunteer Day on Saturday at the UC Davis Good Life Garden. (Photo courtesy UC Davis Arboretum & Public Gardens)

What better way to celebrate spring than getting your hands dirty?

This Saturday, March 26, the UC Davis Arboretum is looking for helping hands to participate in its Community Volunteer Day. The project: Replanting the beds at the Good Life Garden in the courtyard of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science,

“Join us for another volunteer day!” say the organizers. “Get outside, get your hands dirty and help beautify the Good Life Garden while getting tips on the best prep and planting methods for growing veggies.”

As a sampler of California’s bounty, the Good Life Garden features dozens of varieties of vegetables, fruit and herbs. In addition, bee-friendly flowers bring in beneficial insects. With its ever-changing edible landscape, the garden has become a popular venue for weddings and major campus events.

Volunteers will tackle the project from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. Participation is free, but volunteers should register in advance. Space is limited.

To register:

For more on the arboretum: . The Mondavi Institute can be reached from the Old Davis Road exit off Interstate 80. Link to the campus map is here .


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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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