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Get rare fruit varieties at annual Scion Exchange

Learn about grafting and expand your orchard --  without growing new trees

If winter has you dreaming of peaches -- especially a new variety to graft onto an existing tree -- be sure to check out the Scion Exchange coming Feb. 26 in Carmichael.

If winter has you dreaming of peaches -- especially a new variety to graft onto an existing tree -- be sure to check out the Scion Exchange coming Feb. 26 in Carmichael.

Kathy Morrison

Got fruit trees? Want more variety in your home orchard? Then, this fascinating and fun event is for you.

It’s the annual Scion Exchange (and it has nothing to do with old Toyotas). Hosted by the Sacramento Valley Chapter of California Rare Fruit Growers, the exchange is like a big community swap meet of fruiting wood. Scions are young shoots that can be grafted onto other trees or root stock.

Set for Sunday, Feb. 26, the exchange will be held at La Sierra Community Center, 5325 Engle Road, Carmichael. CRFG members get the first crack at selecting scions from 10 to 11 a.m. (and also sharing their own). Then, the exchange is open to the general public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Want to be an early bird? Anyone interested in joining the CRFG chapter can do so in advance of the event. Sign up here:

For $5 admission, participants can select from dozens of varieties of deciduous fruit and nut trees from apples to walnuts. The assortment usually includes many heirloom varieties that are hard to find elsewhere.

Learn the basics of grafting, too, and how to add variety to your existing trees. Create a “fruit basket” tree with an assortment of plums, pluots and peaches on one trunk, or a “rainbow apple” tree that bears green, red and yellow fruit that ripens throughout the season instead of all at once. (Sorry, no citrus; just deciduous fruit and nuts are allowed at this exchange.)

What to bring? The organizers ask participants to bring exact change – $5 cash – and some supplies: Zippered plastic baggies (preferably 1 gallon size), masking or painter’s tape, a heavy marking pen (that way participants can label scions as they pick them up) plus a larger bag or backpack to put everything in.

Also, bring your wish list of varieties; you may be able to find them.

“We ask that you only take one or two scions from the varieties you want,” organizers say. “Be sure to wrap tape around those scions and label them! There will be a few vendors selling items and also tables with items that you can root: figs, berries, etc. There will be chairs available to sit but wear comfortable shoes to wander around the tables.”

Details: or email

– Debbie Arrington


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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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