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Find answers at The Farm at State Fair

Kiwi fruit hang in clusters on their arbor at The Farm at Cal Expo. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)
Master gardeners will be out in force at Cal Expo

Got a garden question? The place to find answers this month: The California State Fair.

About 100 UC Cooperative Extension
master gardeners will take turns staffing the answer booth at The Farm during the State Fair, which opens Friday at Cal Expo. With an emphasis on food, this 166th State Fair continues daily through July 28.

Covering more than three acres, The Farm showcases more than 90 California crops and how they grow. From apples and artichokes to watermelon and zucchini, The Farm tells the story of the state’s agricultural bounty and a lot more.

Aeroponic towers can grow food on
"air" (with moisture and nutrients).
In recent years, The Farm has grown into a demonstration garden filled with water- and time-saving innovations. Among those are the 6-foot aeroponic towers, which grow strawberries, tomatoes, herbs and more on moisture forced up the towers by pressurized air. These towers can grow 30 percent more produce on 90 percent less water in 90 percent less space.

Also popular is the step-by-step demonstration garden of how to take out a lawn and replace it with more water-wise alternatives. Large flower beds show off top picks for pollinators and hummingbirds. Want to try unusual backyard crops? Check out the giant kiwi vines and climbing hops.

How do you replicate these results at home? That’s where the master gardeners come in. They also can identify mystery plants and problem pests (bring photos) as well as suggest the best vegetables and fruit to grow in Sacramento area gardens.

Starting July 12, the State Fair is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. The Farm, which closes about 6 p.m. each day, is located behind Building B next to the Cavalcade of Horses.

Cal Expo is located at 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento.

Details and ticket information: .

- Debbie Arrington


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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