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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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