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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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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