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Celebrate National Strawberry Day!

Plant your own crop of this state favorite

Red strawberry on plant
Nothing like growing, picking and eating your own strawberries. Now is the perfect time to plant them. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)




Get ready to celebrate a California favorite: Saturday is National Strawberry Day.

Although the exact origins of this commemoration on this particular date are unclear, Feb. 27 has been tied to strawberries for several years. Why February? In part, because of the strawberry’s red color and heart shape. It’s like a fruity Valentine.

More likely, that late February date coincides with planting time for many California growers – including Sacramento.

According to the California Strawberry Commission, our state grows 88% of the nation’s strawberries on approximately 34,000 acres. Overall, the state has about 300 strawberry farms, divided into five zones: Watsonville/Salinas, Santa Maria, Oxnard, Orange County/San Diego, and the Central Valley.

Statewide, fresh strawberry production averages 50,000 pounds per acre each season, according to the commission. In 2019, California growers harvested more than 1.8 billion pounds of strawberries.

Commercially, California strawberries are available year round. Supply peaks April through August when growers throughout much of the state are harvesting.

Strawberries continue to be immensely popular with California home gardeners, too. More than 600 varieties of strawberries are available, but some do much better in California than others. According to StrawberryPlants.org (which specializes in this crop), the state commission recommends
Albion , Aromas , Camarosa , Camino Real , Chandler , Diamante , Gaviota , Oso Grande, Pacific, Seascape , Selva and Ventana .

For Sacramento’s summer heat, a best bet is Seascape. Disease resistant, this ever-bearing strawberry yields very nice fruit year round, especially in late spring and fall. It’s tolerant of early spring heat as well as Sacramento’s hot summers, and does not need as many chill hours as other varieties.

For more on strawberries: https://strawberryplants.org/ and https://www.calstrawberry.com .

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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