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Pick up a 'Garden Sampler' for best Sierra foothill advice

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Sacramento Digs Gardening

Gardening is different in the Sierra foothills. With higher elevations come subtle changes in weather compared to the Valley; in particular, more rain and colder winter nights. Surrounded by nature and open space, there’s a greater threat of wildfire. Deer and other wildlife are more likely to visit backyards.

All those factors and more shape the foothill approach to gardening.

If you’re a foothill gardener in need of great, totally local advice, pick up a copy of “Garden Sampler,” the 2019 Calendar and Garden Guide created by the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Placer County. This excellent gardening tool is now available for $10 at several locations in Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties as well as at special events this fall.

Or get one directly from the master gardeners at the Placer County office, Building 306 in the DeWitt Center, 11477 E Ave., Auburn (530-889-7385), or at the El Dorado County master gardeners office, 311 Fair Lane, Placerville (530-621-5512).

This 13-month calendar is packed with garden inspiration, focusing on different styles of foothill gardening, according to the master gardeners. “Additionally, there are seasonal tips on how to care for your garden sustainability, as well as timely planting suggestions. Not into growing your own fruits or vegetables? The ‘In Season at the Market’ section is just for you.”

Look for “Garden Sampler” in local nurseries and garden shops as well as the Fall Auburn Home Show, Sept. 28-30, at Auburn’s Gold Country Fairgrounds. More details:


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

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

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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