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New (locally produced) videos packed with garden info

Master gardeners talk fruit protection, straw bales and more

Woman in blue shirt holding a long bamboo pole
UCCE master gardener Wendy Wilson explains the simple tools needed to net a fruit tree. (Screengrab from Sacramento County master gardeners YouTube channel)

Have you checked out the Sacramento County master gardeners' YouTube channel lately? Four new videos have been added to the 30 already there.  They each tackle an important gardening question for this time of year

1) Netting Fruit Trees: An Easy and Inexpensive Method. Are the birds and squirrels eyeing your ripening tree crop? Master gardener Wendy Wilson demonstrates how to protect the fruit, on a 7-foot-tall cherry tree. (The master gardener Orchard Team recommends keeping fruit trees to this height for ease of picking and maintenance.)

2) Straw Bale Gardening, Part 1: Preparing the Bales. Master gardener Gail Pothour has been setting up straw bale gardens at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center for a number of years, growing everything from sweet potatoes to tomatoes in them. She takes viewers through the process of conditioning the straw bales. Great information on the difference between hay and straw, too. Here's the printed guide she mentions in the video. A second video is planned on planting and growing in the bales.

3) Blueberries: Amending Your Soil's pH. Blueberries are picky about their soil -- they need a pH level of 4.5 to 5.5, which is acidic. Master gardener Marta Kravech explains why and how to get the soil acidic enough for blueberries to perform their best.

4) Maintaining a Weed-Free Lawn. Master gardener Sherry Dunn discusses the most common lawn weeds, plus offers mowing tips and information on herbicides.

The previously posted master gardener videos on YouTube contain a wealth of gardening tips. Here are 3 that are relevant right now:

-- Thinning Fruit on Your Fruit Trees. Thinning keeps fruit trees healthy and prevents breakage of limbs.

-- What's Wrong With My Tomatoes? This video tackles environmental disorders such as catfacing, blossom end rot, cracking and sunscald.

-- Harvest and Rejuvenate Your Lavender. Ruth Ostroff and Vivian Sellers of the master gardeners' Herb Team show the best way to keep lavender healthy.

-- Kathy Morrison


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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