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Learning now for garden success this year

Planning, planting classes and videos offered by the area's master gardeners

Sacramento County master gardener Tamara Engel demonstrates how to prune a mature blueberry plant in a YouTube video.

Sacramento County master gardener Tamara Engel demonstrates how to prune a mature blueberry plant in a YouTube video.

Screenshot from Sacramento County master gardeners' YouTube channel

We’re back to rain today (and likely Sunday) but even with wet conditions gardeners can still make progress the next several days toward their spring gardens. Choosing and starting seeds, for example, planning irrigation, or learning how to maximize planting spaces will all contribute to success.

The region’s master gardeners have three classes coming up that can help in those pursuits:

– “Gardening in Small Spaces,” 9 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Feb. 8. This three-hour in-person class from the El Dorado County master gardeners will be held at the Cameron Park Community Center, 2502 Country Club Drive, Cameron Park. Master gardener Mike Pavlick will cover site location, design, raised bed options, container gardening and other methods that will allow anyone to have a vegetable garden in a small backyard setting. No pre-registration required. Information on the El Dorado master gardeners' events can be found here.

– “Growing Spring and Summer Vegetables,” Zoom online class, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 11. El Dorado master gardener Zack Dowell will discuss garden plant selection, planting times, site selection, soil preparation, proper seed planting techniques, and pest management. Pre-registration is required to get the Zoom link. The registration link can be found under the class listing here: https://mgeldorado.ucanr.edu/Calendar/

– “Improving Water Efficiency in Your Garden,” in-person and Zoom workshop, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11. Presented by the Placer County master gardeners, it will include tips and resources for maximizing their water efficiency.  Participants will gain water-wise ideas and visuals for transforming their landscape, organizers note. The in-person site is the Loomis Library, 6050 Library Drive, Loomis. The registration link for the simultaneous Zoom workshop can be found here.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento County master gardeners recently posted two helpful YouTube videos for this time of year: “Pruning Mature Blueberry Plants,” with master gardener Tamara Engel, and “Transplanting Nursery Plants for a Healthy Start” with master gardener Lisa Odom. Each is just 5 minutes, succinct and easy to repeat. 

– Kathy Morrison

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:


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


* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.


* 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 help corral blossom blight.


* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.


To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* 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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