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Weekend gardening workshops make up for rainy conditions

Elk Grove, Orangevale each host information events

Learn how to grow pumpkins -- many times bigger than this one! -- during "Grow Orangevale Gardening Day" this Saturday. Elk Grove  also will be the site of a garden information event, on both Saturday and Sunday.

Learn how to grow pumpkins -- many times bigger than this one! -- during "Grow Orangevale Gardening Day" this Saturday. Elk Grove also will be the site of a garden information event, on both Saturday and Sunday. Kathy Morrison

The first spring weekend is ahead of us, but it's going to be rainy! Gee, and just as we were re-adjusting to getting dirt under our fingernails and wearing sun protection.

Well, here's how to make the best of it: This weekend, two free gardening information events will be held, one at either end of Sacramento County. Open to all, these events will be especially useful for beginning gardeners, but also should have good refresher information for experienced folks.

Ever wanted to grow a giant pumpkin? In Orangevale on Saturday,  teen gardener and youth pumpkin weigh-off champion Sankalp Immadisetty will offer his tips as part of the "Grow Orangevale Gardening Day" event at the Orangevale Library.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., "Grow Orangevale" will have a full slate of talks, as well as a plant and seed swap. (The public is welcome to bring plants or seeds to trade.)

Podcaster and lifetime master gardener "Farmer Fred" Hoffman will speak at 11 a.m., followed by Immadisetty and the Orangevale Farm & Garden Club at noon. A composting workshop with Lisa Christensen begins at 1 p.m., and the California Native Plant Society will give a presentation at 2 p.m.

The Orangevale Library is at 8820 Greenback Lane, Suite L, Orangevale.

In Elk Grove, meanwhile, the Elk Grove Community Garden and Learning Center will present a free "Gardening 101" class, 10 a.m. to noon. both Saturday and Sunday. "Learn to set up a garden big or small," say organizers. "Learn the importance of soil, water and sun."

RSVPs for this event can be called in to (916) 818-9108, but walk-ins also are welcome. The Elk Grove garden is at 10025 Hampton Oak Drive, Elk Grove.


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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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