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Get growing with expert advice at Saturday's Open Garden

Preparing for spring and summer, Sacramento County master gardeners host free event

Expect the weather to be bright and warm this Saturday for the Open Garden at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. The Berry Garden, in foreground, will be the focus of a mini talk on soil pH levels and applying sulfur.

Expect the weather to be bright and warm this Saturday for the Open Garden at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. The Berry Garden, in foreground, will be the focus of a mini talk on soil pH levels and applying sulfur. Kathy Morrison

Want your best vegetable garden ever? Before you plant, get the advice you need Saturday morning during Open Garden at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center in Fair Oaks Park.

From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 16, the UCCE master gardeners of Sacramento County will be out in force to teach by doing – rain or shine. (Fortunately, Saturday is expected to be warm and sunny.)

“Open Gardens are informal free events where you roam the gardens, watch what we are doing, see what we are growing and ask questions,” explain the master gardeners.

Join dozens of master gardeners “among native trees, culinary herbs, raised vegetable beds, a citrus grove and more,” they say. Find out what you should be doing in your own garden by watching and questioning these local experts.

It’s also a wonderful opportunity to get answers to perplexing plant and pest questions.

“Bring samples of your problem plants, bagged insects and questions to the ‘Ask the Master Gardeners’ information table,” they add. “Get one-on-one advice based on the most recent research-based sustainable practices.”

Interested in composting? Learn which bin is right for your space and needs. Get advice on worm composting, too.

Two “mini-talks” are planned:

* Planting for summer color and propagating perennials; and

* How to measure and adjust pH levels with soil sulfur for berries. (This is especially important for blueberries.)

Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is located at 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks.

The next Open Garden is scheduled for Wednesday morning, April 17.

For more details and directions: https://sacmg.ucanr.edu/.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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