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Get ready for fall gardening at Open Garden Day

Master gardeners will be on hand to answer questions and show off what's growing now

The Welcome Area of the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is shady and cool in the morning hours.

The Welcome Area of the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is shady and cool in the morning hours.

Kathy Morrison

It’s going to be cooler Saturday. Yes, really. And everything in the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center will be looking as good as possible for visitors to Open Garden Day from 9  a.m. to noon.

The Sacramento County master gardeners’ Open Garden Days aren’t quite the productions that Harvest Day is: no speakers or vendor booths, for example. But there will be plenty of master gardeners on hand, working in the FOHC’s gardens and available to answer all kinds of gardening questions.

The 2023 Garden Guide and Calendar also will be on sale during Open Garden. Just $10, it is a great resource throughout the year -- and makes a nice gift, too. Proceeds benefit the master gardener program.

Open Garden Day is free and open to the public. The Horticulture Center is at 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., south of Madison Avenue and the Fair Oaks Library. For a map and details:

Incidentally, applications for the 2023 master gardener training class open tomorrow, Sept. 9. So if you’ve ever envisioned yourself as a master gardener, this could be the year to apply! Sacramento County’s program does not train every year; the class of 2020 is the most recent one. Applicants must be residents of Sacramento County; other counties have their own training programs.

The application period closes Oct. 17. Applicants can attend one of two “Meet the Master Gardeners” events, at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 or 9 a.m. Oct. 19 at the UCCE office, 4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento.

What is a master gardener, anyway? They are all ages but generally are volunteers who educate home gardeners through workshops, events, presentations and the online and phone Help Desk, sharing UC research-based home horticultural information with the public. New master gardeners are required to put in 50 hours of volunteer time the first year; veterans have a 25-hour requirement. Twelve hours of continuing education per year also is required for all master gardeners.

Hint from a member of that 2020 class: Folks with a history of or interest in volunteering — in any capacity, church, school, community, whatever — do very well. Gardening interest, but not expertise, is expected. It also helps if you like a good research hunt. As my class was told, “We don’t expect you to memorize everything, but we expect you to know where to look it up.”

More information on the training program is here:

– Kathy Morrison


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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