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Harvest Day is coming back (online)

Master gardeners' virtual celebration of gardening information

Woman in blue shirt, man in red shirt and straw hat
Debbie Arrington of Sacramento Digs Gardening chats with Fred Hoffman during
the most recent in-person Harvest Day, in 2019. Hoffman will be a keynote speaker for the virtual 2021 Harvest Day on Aug. 7. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Happy July!  It's fully summer now, which means soon it'll be time for the UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County annual Harvest Day celebration. It's scheduled for Aug. 7 (but psst! many of the offerings will be available ahead of time).

In pre-pandemic years, this event was an all-day celebration of gardening information, held at the master gardeners' Fair Oaks Horticulture Center.

Last year with everyone in lockdown, the celebration switched to a virtual event, with many short videos on gardening topics. There were keynote speakers, too, but their presentations were filmed and available ahead of time. All those videos are still on YouTube here, for anyone who missed them or wants to re-watch.

That brings us to 2021. Because Harvest Day requires so much planning, so far in advance -- beginning in winter, before vaccinations were common -- the master gardeners' Harvest Day committee voted then to have it again be a virtual event. So the walks and talks and tastings in the lovely FOHC will have to wait another year, but the new videos in the works will about double the MGs' YouTube library.

There will be a lot more coming out on Harvest Day in the weeks ahead, but here's a general look:

The keynote speakers are (drum roll, please):

* Fred Hoffman on “Growing Food Year-Round: Cool Season Vegetables.”  Hoffman of course is the host of the podcast “Garden Basics with Farmer Fred” and the "Green Acres Garden Podcast." He's also a lifetime master gardener. If you've missed his radio gardening shows, I hope you know to tune into his podcasts here and here .

*  Greg Gayton from Green Acres Nursery on “Successful Gardening in Raised Beds.”  Gayton is a longtime supporter of Harvest Day with a wealth of gardening knowledge.

* UCCE Master Gardener Bill Krycia on “Jazzed about Citrus.” If anyone can explain the mystery that is citrus growing, it's Krycia, who is highly entertaining.

The keynote speakers' recorded talks will be available for viewing beginning mid-July on theYouTube channel at .

Then on Harvest Day, they each will be available for a live-online Q&A session: Fred Hoffman at 8:30 a.m., Greg Gayton at 9:10 a.m. and Bill Krycia at 9:50 a.m. Participants must register for this part of the event. Register at to get the participation link.

Also planned on Aug. 7 are three 40-minute webinars presented by the Sacramento County master gardeners:

* “Unusual Edibles in the Central Valley” with Quentyn Young (of Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery) at 10:30 a.m. Young, who is part of the FOHC orchard team, has enthusiasm and expertise to spare on exotic fruits and veggies.

* “Tips for Houseplant Selection and Care” with Lori Ann Asmus at 11:20 a.m. Houseplants are a big deal, still, but can be confusing. Asmus will shed light on their particular care.

* “Growing Bearded Irises in the Home Garden” with Ruth Ostroff at 12:10 p.m. Ostroff is the iris expert among the master gardeners, with hundreds of varieties at her own garden.

These webinars also will require registration at to get the participation link.

This will be a full day of gardening fun, even if it is online. And next year, back to the FOHC -- we hope!


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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