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Cool it on a garden tour, then check in on the sun

The Japanese garden is one of 16 sites within the Sherwood Demonstration
Garden in Placerville. (Photo courtesy UCCE El Dorado master gardeners)
Two weekend events in Placerville promise family fun

There are many cool places to hang out this weekend but one of the coolest for gardeners is the Sherwood Demonstration Garden in Placerville. And this Saturday morning you can get a guided tour of the place for free. Stick around after that tour and visit the Community Observatory for a free viewing of our garden pal, the sun.

The demonstration garden is a production of El Dorado County's UCCE master gardeners. Both events are at the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College, 6699 Campus Drive, Placerville.

The garden tour starts promptly at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, July 6, is one hour long and is open to individuals and small groups. Participants should arrive 10 minutes early. No reservations are required and no fee is charged, though the $2 college parking fee applies. (Exact change is required.) No dogs are allowed in the garden.

Master Gardener Sue McDavid will lead the group through the 16 individual demonstration gardens that showcase the growing conditions and microclimates of western El Dorado County. The plants all are sustainably grown for the gardens, which range from a rose garden to a rock garden. An orchard, a marsh and a native plants garden also are part of the site. Information:

The Community Observatory will be open from 10 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. The observatory volunteers will show the sun through their safe solar telescopes, viewing both white light and hydrogen-alpha. Viewers will be able to see sunspots, prominences and maybe even a flare, they say.

Can't make the sun viewing? The observatory will also have night sky viewing at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday. For more information:

-- Kathy Morrison


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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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