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Online workshop covers basics of seed saving

Learn how a seed library works during 'Lettuce Unite!'

Two lettuce seedlings
Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to save
seeds from. Learn how at a Zoom free workshop
on Feb. 5. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Have you ever “checked out” an heirloom watermelon? Or “deposited” some favorite beans? You can do both at a seed library.

Learn how seed libraries work – as well as the basics of starting one of your own – during a free Zoom workshop.

Offered by the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Placer County, “Lettuce Unite!” is open to gardeners of all ages and locations. Set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, the one-hour session will focus on seed saving, an age-old method of preserving heirloom varieties of vegetables and flowers.

“What is a seed library? How do I ‘borrow’ seeds? How do I ‘return’ seeds? What do I do with those seeds?” say the master gardeners. “Learn all about what a seed library is, how to grow a summer garden, and a little about how to save seeds successfully.”

Seed libraries are becoming increasingly popular among vegetable and flower gardeners, especially those interested in growing heirloom varieties. The concept is simple: During planting time, gardeners “borrow” the seed of their choice. Instead of harvesting all of a crop, gardeners allow some of the plants to form seed. The gardeners then save that mature seed and return some to the library.

Gardeners also may make contributions of seed they saved from other plants not originally grown from the library’s stock. Lettuce – as the workshop’s name implies – ranks among the easiest seed to save. Another theme of this gardening pastime: Seed saving brings gardeners together.

This workshop is great for school or community garden groups. Gardeners also can learn tips on how to save seed for their own use.

To participate, click on and follow the Zoom link. Passcode: seed.

“Lettuce Unite!” is part of a late winter-early spring series of Zoom sessions hosted by the Placer County master gardeners. Upcoming online workshops include:

Feb. 12: “Citrus Tree Care in the Foothills.”

Feb. 26: “Totally Tomatoes.”

March 12: “Dealing with Deer.”

March 26: “Planning Your Vegetable Garden.”

Miss a workshop? Catch it later on the Placer County master gardeners home page.

Learn more:


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Garden Checklist for week of June 23

Get to work in the mornings while it’s still cool.

* Irrigate early in the day; your plants will appreciate it.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the early hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes. 

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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