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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 Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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