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Scion exchange canceled, but will 'live' online

Popular January event switches to Facebook

persimmons on tree
Fruit growers enjoy exchanging scions, such as for these
Fuyu persimmons. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

COVID closures are affecting 2021 garden events, too. That includes what’s usually one of the biggest local gatherings each January: The California Rare Fruit Growers Scion Exchange.

This event annually attracts hundreds of backyard farmers and hobbyists, who trade scions – young shoots for grafting – as well as buy rootstock and learn grafting techniques.

Five Northern California chapters of CRFG including Sacramento participate in this event, providing scions for hundreds of fruit varieties from heirloom apples to unusual persimmons.

Due to pandemic restrictions and concerns, the in-person event has been canceled, CRFG announced Monday. But a virtual substitute will keep people trading scions.

“We will be canceling the 2021 Scion Exchange normally held in January at the La Sierra Community Center,” wrote Sandy Bressler on the CRFG Facebook page. “The Sacramento Chapter usually holds this event along with four other chapters in Northern California. Other chapters have also canceled their events and have been trying to figure out a way to exchange scions and it seems best to be done by personal trades.”

But how do you connect with other fruit growers? Via Facebook, of course.

“Therefore, please use our Facebook group as a forum for listing your ‘Wants’ and ‘Haves,’ ” Bressler suggested. “You should write your post clearly so the wording expresses whether you have something to trade, willing to send a (self-addressed stamped envelope) or pay postage for mailing etc.

“If you are in search of scions, type into the search box the scion variety you want and then all posts with that mentioned will come up on the screen,” Bressler added. “Then, either post a response or (personal message) that person.

“You can also do a search now (on the group’s Facebook page) for your wanted scions to find someone growing what you want to graft. Please be considerate when requesting scions and always speak up about how you would like to handle the process.”

Bressler provided an example:

Want: (apple) Pink Parfait, (persimmon) Fuyu

Have to trade: (apple) Jonathan, (pomegranate) Vkusnyi

Willing to: pickup/dropoff in Davis area, or pay postage

“Please be sure to use caution with any scions exchanged in baggies,” Bressler noted.

There’s one catch: To participate, you need to join the CRFG’s Facebook group. To join, search for “Sacramento California Rare Fruit Growers” on and send a request to join the group.


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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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