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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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For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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