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Learn about firescaping, better protect your home

Free workshop offers advice on fire-wise landscaping renovations

Did you know citrus trees are considered fire-smart plants? Learn about defensible space and  firescaping options April 8.

Did you know citrus trees are considered fire-smart plants? Learn about defensible space and firescaping options April 8. Kathy Morrison

Yes, your landscape can help protect your home against wildfire. It’s not just what you grow, but where.

Find out how during a free in-person workshop, offered by the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Placer County.

Set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 8, “Firescaping: Get ahead and slow the spread!” will spotlight the concept of “defensible space” – creating a buffer zone around your home or other structures and surrounding wildland. The one-hour session will be held at Loomis Library, 6050 Library Drive, Loomis.

“There is a way to organize your landscape and maintain your garden that will help create defensible space around your home,” say the master gardeners. “We’ll discuss what the research is telling us about the best practices we can implement in our landscapes to slow the spread of fire while still being able to enjoy a beautiful garden.”

A big difference between firescaping and low-water gardening: Plant choice. Such favorite low-water Mediterranean plants as rosemary burn easily due to the high oil or resin content in their leaves. Evergreen conifers such as pines also may not be fire-wise – even though they may be native. Low-water native grasses tend to burn rapidly.

Among the plants recommended for firescaping: Daylily, butterfly bush, lavender, salvia, coreopsis and ceanothus. Some fruits, too: Citrus and blueberries, for example.

With so much moisture in the soil, this spring will be a good time for landscape renovation; new plants will be quicker to get established. On the down side, all that rain will likely increase fire danger later this year due to lush vegetation in our foothills and wildlands.

Add the master gardeners, “With so many Placer County residents living amongst the wildland interface, the time is now to make a plan for your house and yard to create a firewise landscape.”

For more details: https://pcmg.ucanr.org/.

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Garden Checklist for week of June 16

Summer officially starts Thursday. The good news: No triple-digits – at least until next weekend.

* Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden, with tomatoes and squash enjoying the heat. Deep-water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal or rock phosphate can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, melons, radishes, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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