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You're invited to Sacramento's biggest garden party

Just like last year, above, shade will be plentiful throughout the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center during Harvest Day. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Harvest Day returns Aug. 3 at Fair Oaks Horticulture Center

Harvest Day, that education-packed celebration of local gardening, returns Saturday, Aug. 3, at Fair Oaks Horticulture Center in Fair Oaks Park. It’s annually Sacramento’s largest gardening event of its kind with hundreds of master gardeners and vendors involved.

Although the weather appears to be cooling back into the mere 90s, organizers are prepared for the heat.

“We have plenty of shady areas,” said Judy McClure, Sacramento County’s master gardener coordinator. “Water will be available (from food vendors). The weather forecast right now says 93 degrees, not 103. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

And a cool addition to the event’s food truck line-up: Gelato!

“We’re looking forward to it,” McClure said. “Even if you’ve been to Harvest Day before, we have a lot of new, fun things this year.”

Under the shade of a giant tent with plentiful seating, three popular speakers will address topics often requested by the public.

At 8:30 a.m., American River College’s Debbie Flower will share tips on water-wise container gardening.

At 9:45 a.m., compost expert Kevin Marini will tell how to know when your soil and plants need fertilizing.

At 11 a.m., landscape horticulturist Pam Bone will get to the root of many tree and shrub issues: root problems.

Two morning mini-seminars are devoted to home vineyard care.

“We have early-, mid- and late-ripening varieties; you can have grapes from May to September,” said McClure, noting plants will be available for sale. “We can help you do that.”

Gardeners will see how experts keep birds and critters away without poison or traps.

Grapes are protected in bags at the Hort Center vineyard.
“We did a lot of bagging and netting,” McClure said. “It’s quite a sight to see all these little organza bags hanging on the vines.”

In addition, pop-up demonstrations will be held throughout the Hort Center. A full schedule is available online at

Harvest Day is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday with free admission and parking. Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is located in Fair Oaks Park, 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks.


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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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