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Get expert advice during Open Garden Day

Sacramento County master gardeners host free event Saturday

The orchard at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center includes espaliered fruit trees, above, as well as trees pruned to be "fruit bushes," kept under 7 feet tall to allow easy harvesting. Learn about both types of pruning/training  during Open Garden Day.

The orchard at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center includes espaliered fruit trees, above, as well as trees pruned to be "fruit bushes," kept under 7 feet tall to allow easy harvesting. Learn about both types of pruning/training during Open Garden Day. Kathy Morrison

After three weeks of rain, we gardeners have a lot of pent-up energy – and questions. What should we be doing now to help our gardens be their best – or just survive?

Get those answers Saturday morning – and maybe learn some new techniques – during “Open Garden” with the Sacramento County master gardeners. Admission and parking are free.

Set for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center in Fair Oaks Park, Open Garden is a chance to hang out with experts as they tackle their garden tasks. At various garden stations, see hands-on demonstrations. Here are some of Saturday’s topics:

* Compost: Sorting home food waste – Compost pile? Worm bin? Organic Waste Can?
* Water-Efficient Landscape Garden: Flowering bulbs and colorful foliage.
* Vegetables: Tasty cool weather crops.
* Herbs: Brighten winter dishes with flavorful herbs.
* Proper pruning methods for: cane berries and blueberries; deciduous fruit trees; and grapevines.

And of course, Sacramento County master gardeners will be available to answer questions and offer advice from local experience. Got a mystery pest or problem? Bring photos or a sample, packed in a sealed zippered plastic bag.

The forecast calls for sun although it will be chilly with temperatures in the 40s; dress warmly with closed-toe shoes. Open Garden will go on, rain or shine.

Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is located at 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., in Fair Oaks.

For more details: https://sacmg.ucanr.edu/.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

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

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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