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Gather those gardening questions for Open Garden

Make use of the master gardeners' expertise

Espaliered fruit tree
An espaliered fruit tree overlooks the Berry Project area, with the pond and the Master Gardener information area beyond, during a pre-pandemic winter Open Garden. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Three hours of Open Garden at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center this Saturday isn't enough to plumb all the free knowledge available to home gardeners. But it's a start. And the weather will be clear and January-nice.

Here's how to make the most of the event, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon:

-- Decide which area you most want to visit, and head for that first. The Orchard will be busy all morning, so anyone with pruning questions will want to spend time there early. Learn how the trees are pruned to keep them a manageable size for harvesting.

Most of the fruit trees are off to the right past the Chuck Ingels Memorial Gate, but the citrus trees are past the Vegetable Garden, along the back fence, and the espaliered trees and a few others are between the Berry Garden and the Vineyard. The FOHC's other gardens are: Water Efficient Landscape (WEL), Herb Garden and Compost Area.

-- In the WEL, check for plants showing winter color. Some California natives do bloom in winter, adding interest to what can be a drab time of year.

-- Ask the Herb Garden team about propagating herbs. Many perennial herbs can be grown from cuttings or slips.

-- The Vegetable Garden will have winter and some early spring vegetables in the raised beds. See what's growing now, and ask what will be planted during the next month. (Then return for the Feb. 12 Open Garden and see how things have progressed!)

-- Pruning is also a winter activity in the Berry Garden and the Vineyard. Anyone who wants to grow blueberries, cane berries or grapes will do well to ask about tools and techniques.

-- Say hi to the worms in their new location! The vermiculture area has moved, along with the rest of   the Compost Project. Learn how easy it is to set up a worm box and harvest the best "garden gold."

-- Not sure where to take a gardening question? Bring a sample of the problem plant, if appropriate, and stop at the Ask a Master Gardener table, in the center of the FOHC. The master gardeners stationed there will have many resources at their fingertips to find the answer.

The 2022 Gardening Guide and Calendar also will be for sale during Open Garden, for just $10, including tax.

For general information on the Open Garden, including directions to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, visit this page.

-- Kathy Morrison


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* 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.

* 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 wee 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.

* 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.

* 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.

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