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Got Sacramento garden questions? Find answers here

Check out the Water-Efficient Landscape at the Horticulture Center. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Master Gardeners offer expert advice during Open Garden at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center

This has been a puzzling and perplexing summer for many Sacramento gardeners, who undoubtedly have bushels of questions about what went wrong (or right) and why.

But where to find answers? Open Garden, of course. Saturday morning, Sept. 8, from 9 a.m. to noon, join the UC Cooperative Extension Sacramento County Master Gardeners at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center in Fair Oaks Park, 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks.

This popular free event offers a wealth of good gardening advice in an atmosphere filled with examples of what works in Sacramento gardens.

During the Open Garden, visitors can explore the site's many demonstration gardens including its Water-Efficient Landscape (great ideas for drought-tolerant plants) and easy-reach orchard (which makes harvesting simple).

Master Gardeners, who are constantly trying out new methods and varieties at the Hort Center, will staff the demonstration areas and answer questions.

Got a mystery plant or pest? Bag it up (preferably in a sealed plastic bag) and these experts will identify it and offer appropriate advice.


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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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