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Sacramento County master gardeners host midweek Open Garden

Get advice from local experts; see how they tackle spring tasks

Native Douglas irises -- as well as the 'Canyon Snow' cultivar irises -- are in bloom at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center this week, which also happens to be California Native Plant Week.

Native Douglas irises -- as well as the 'Canyon Snow' cultivar irises -- are in bloom at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center this week, which also happens to be California Native Plant Week. Kathy Morrison

Spring stirs thoughts of gardening – and lots of questions. Here’s your chance to get expert advice from Sacramento County master gardeners during a (hopefully) sunny midweek morning.

From 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, April 17, the master gardeners will host an Open Garden event at Fair Oaks Horticulture Center in Fair Oaks Park – rain or shine. Admission and parking are free.

See the latest renovations and additions to this growing resource. Watch master gardeners as they tend to spring tasks and prepare for summer planting and rapid growth.

“For gardeners, there is no better time than spring to get inspired and tap into some practical and scientific know-how,” say the organizers. “Join Sacramento’s UC Master Gardeners to view new and established plantings and get locally relevant answers to your gardening questions.”

Master gardeners will be available to answer questions. Bring photos and samples of pests and/or problem plants, if desired (in zippered plastic bags). Got a garden mystery? These garden detectives are ready to help.

Stroll around the Hort Center and see what the master gardeners are busy doing this week. Ask questions! They love to talk gardening.

Some areas of interest:

BERRIES: Loganberries and ‘Baby Cakes’ raspberries are joining the berry garden. See how the various blueberry plants are doing.

HERBS: International culinary herb beds are making room for new annuals. Sniff the scented pelargoniums and the various lavenders.  View edible flowers such as calendula and Johnny jump-ups.

VEGETABLES: Beds are being cleared of cover crops and revitalized with compost and fertilizer. As the soil warms, All-America Selections of tomatoes, flowers and vegetables will be planted.

ORCHARD: As the citrus harvest concludes, trees are being fertilized and pruned. Other sections of the orchard are being prepared for new trees including some in containers.

WATER-EFFICIENT LANDSCAPE: Subtropical varieties are being tried the Sacramento area in anticipation of climate change.

Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is located at 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks, south of the Fair Oaks Library.

Details and directions: https://sacmg.ucanr.edu.

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Garden Checklist for week of June 16

Summer officially starts Thursday. The good news: No triple-digits – at least until next weekend.

* Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden, with tomatoes and squash enjoying the heat. Deep-water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal or rock phosphate can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, melons, radishes, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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