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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 (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: and .


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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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