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Farm to floor: Search for the perfect tree


Find a forest of evergreens at nearby tree farms. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Christmas tree farms open the season Friday



It’s a Sacramento holiday tradition: A short trek to find the perfect tree.

Think of it as farm to floor. Forests of fresh firs, pines, spruces, cedars and even redwoods await customers at Sierra foothill tree farms (and a few farms in the Valley, too).

An hour from Sacramento, Apple Hill is dotted with several growers. You can cut your own or take home a pre-cut tree.

Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is opening day for many of these farms. With more stormy weather in the forecast, check road conditions before heading out.

Tuesday’s snow, which blanketed much of the foothills, “set” the needles on the trees, according to growers. That way, the trees will hold onto their needles longer. The moisture also freshened up the foliage.

That snow also makes the tree search feel wintery – a wonderful touch when thinking “White Christmas.” Several growers offer hot cider or hot chocolate along with their trees.

Find a map and suggestions at the El Dorado County Christmas Tree Growers’ website,
Chooseandcut.com .

For folks who would rather keep their search in the Sacramento Valley, check out Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm in Dixon. Celebrating its 40th year, this farm opens Friday, too. Find it at 6248 Silveyville Road, Dixon, and online at www.silveyvilletreefarm.com .

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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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