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National Heirloom Expo returns to Santa Rosa

Expect to see all kinds of vegetables at the National Heirloom Expo. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

This must-see event offers latest trends in old-fashioned food

It’s the world’s fair of good, clean food.

The National Heirloom Expo returns this week to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds for three days of the latest trends in old-fashioned vegetables, fruit, farm techniques and more.

More than 100 speakers and demonstrations will tackle all sorts of topics, from African-American heirlooms ( 11:30 a.m. Tuesday ) to "Unstoppable Community Activism" ( 10 a.m. Thursday ).

Beekeeping, seed saving and building a successful farming business are among the down-to-earth practical discussions. A marketplace offers scores of organic and natural food vendors. Music and food samples are almost nonstop.
A mountain of squash is quite a sight.

The biggest draw is the display of heirloom vegetables, fruit and flowers, filling large exhibit halls at the fairgrounds. At past expos, a mountain of squash towered to the ceiling. The flower event includes an eye-popping dahlia show.

Tickets are $15 at the gate; children 12 and under admitted free. Details: .

- Debbie Arrington


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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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