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Learn to grow tomatoes that dreams are made of

Saturday class, presentations focus on vegetable gardening

For now we can dream of a tomato harvest like this.

For now we can dream of a tomato harvest like this.

Kathy Morrison

Tomato gardeners and wannabe tomato gardeners, our time is coming! Eventually this year we’ll be able to plant, tend and harvest our favorite crop. Just not yet -- still too wet and cold.

In the meantime, learn about or refresh your memory on growing that precious harvest -- and other vegetables -- in two special events this weekend.

In the morning, learn about growing tomatoes, and then preserving them, at a special 3-hour class jointly taught by the El Dorado County master gardeners and master food preservers. “Tomatoes from Seed to Table” runs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 25, at the El Dorado Hills CSD Teen Center (next to the CSD Skate Park), 1021 Harvard Way, El Dorado Hills.

Master gardeners will show how to choose the right varieties, deal with insects and diseases, care for and harvest your tomatoes. Master food preservers will talk about what you can do with your tomato harvest: canning, dehydrating and freezing. Instructors for this class are Zack Dowell, Suzanne Surburg and Cindy Young.

For more information on the El Dorado County master gardener programs and events, visit

And if your hunger for vegetable gardening knowledge isn’t sated after that, stop in at the “Grow Orangevale” event at the Orangevale Library afterwards. Catch Sacramento County master gardeners, including “Farmer Fred” Hoffman, giving presentations on home vegetable gardening.

At 1 p.m., master gardener Andi McDonald will discuss the basics of starting and maintaining a home vegetable garden – what, when, and where to plant. At 2 p.m., Hoffman will present tips on spring gardening.

The Sacramento Public Library in Orangevale is at 8820 Greenback Lane, Suite L.

For other Sacramento master gardener events, visit


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, 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.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* 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.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* 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.

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