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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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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