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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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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* 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 needs nutrients. Fertilize 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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