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Free workshop shows how to grow, use culinary herbs

El Dorado County master gardeners spotlight these flavorful plants from garden to gourmet

Basil is likely the most popular annual herb to grow in a kitchen garden, but many other herbs are perennials. Learn about culinary herbs at an El Dorado master gardener class this weekend.

Basil is likely the most popular annual herb to grow in a kitchen garden, but many other herbs are perennials. Learn about culinary herbs at an El Dorado master gardener class this weekend. Kathy Morrison

Herbs do more than flavor food. In the garden, they can attract beneficial insects while keeping pests away. And many of these versatile herbs are good-looking landscape plants, too.

Learn how to make the most of these plants and grow your own in “Culinary Herbs: From Garden to Gourmet,” a free workshop presented by the UCCE master gardeners of El Dorado County.

Set for 9 a.m. Saturday, March 23, this three-hour class will be held at Blackstone Community Center in El Dorado Hills. It’s open to anyone (not just El Dorado County residents) and will inspire participants in the kitchen as well as the garden.

“No fat, low fat, no salt, watch the sugar; we’re constantly bombarded about how to eat healthier,” say the master gardeners. “One of the best ways to introduce healthy, delicious flavor into meals is to use herbs in our cooking. Many are easy to grow and preserve. They also make beautiful landscape plants and many of their flowers are edible.

“Join master gardeners Jan Keahey and Ada Brehmer to explore the herbs that grow well in our area, how to propagate and grow, when to harvest and how to preserve,” they add. “And you will be able to propagate herbs to take home with you.”

Blackstone Community Center is located at 1461 Blackstone Parkway, El Dorado Hills. Questions? Email

For more on El Dorado master gardener programs:


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Garden Checklist for week of April 21

This week there’s plenty to keep gardeners busy. With no rain in the immediate forecast, remember to irrigate any new transplants.

* Weed, weed, weed! Get them before they flower and go to seed.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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