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Prepare for spring during Open Garden Day

Master gardeners will be available to answer questions

Fair Oaks Horticulture Center with gate and people
The gates will be open and master gardeners on hand this Saturday during Open
Garden at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

How can I keep bugs from eating my vegetables? Can I plant an orange tree now? What are these weeds popping up? Which plants will bring hummingbirds to my garden? Do herbs grow well in pots? Which fertilizer is best for blueberries? How do I start a compost pile?

Spring is the busiest time for garden questions. If you have any of the ones above, or any others, the March Open Garden this Saturday at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is the place to get them answered.

From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 12, the Sacramento County master gardeners will be on site in all areas of the Horticulture Center, with tips and advice for spring planting.

Bring plant samples or unidentified insects (in plastic bags) to the Ask a Master Gardener table. The last copies of the 2022 Gardening Guide and Calendar will be on sale for the bargain price of $10.

The Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is at 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks. south of Madison Boulevard, in Fair Oaks Park next to the library.

If you are unable to attend this Open Garden, these are scheduled for the rest of spring:

-- A mid-week Open Garden, 9 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, April 13;

-- Saturday morning Open Garden, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 14;

-- An afternoon/evening Open Garden, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.,  Wednesday, May 18;

-- Saturday morning Open Garden, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 18.

And save the date, Saturday, Aug. 6, for Harvest Day. The master gardeners' big annual event at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center will be held in person this year for the first time since 2019.

-- 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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