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Get free mulch at these May events

'Mulch Mayhem' returns to Sacramento, Placer counties

Get free mulch for your garden while it lasts!

Get free mulch for your garden while it lasts! Photo courtesy Placer County Water Agency

One day, it’s feeling like summer. The next, it’s cold and rainy.

What’s a gardener to do?

Try to keep your plants evenly comfortable with a blanket of mulch. This natural insulation not only keeps soil moist but also helps regulate soil temperature – two ways to beat the heat or cold.

Get plenty of free mulch at events on two upcoming Saturday mornings in May.

Sponsored by the Regional Water Authority and local water providers, “Mulch Mayhem” offers free mulch while supplies last from 8 a.m. to noon May 6 and 20 at locations in Sacramento and Placer counties.

“These free events are designed to help local residents get their yards ready for summer,” say organizers. “Mulch slows evaporation, moderates soil temperature, beautifies landscapes and even controls weeds. As it breaks down, mulch also adds helpful nutrients to the soil.”

Mulch also helps save water during the dry months of summer.

“Water managers estimate that residents can save 30 gallons of water for every 1,000 square feet just by adding two to three inches of organic mulch (such as leaves and wood chips) around plants and four to six inches around trees,” say the organizers. When mulching trees or shrubs, take care to keep mulch away from their trunks to avoid crown rot

No reservations are needed. Bring a shovel, containers or tarps and a means to haul your free mulch away. This mulch is for residential use only and not for resale.

On Saturday morning, May 6, get your mulch at these locations:

* Carmichael Water District, 7837 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael.

Information: (916) 483-2452 or carmichaelwd.org.

* Sierra College’s overflow lot, corner of Rocklin Road and El Don Drive opposite the campus, in Rocklin.

Information: (530) 823-4850 or pcwa.net.

* Sacramento Suburban Water District, 917 Enterprise Drive, Sacramento

Information: (916) 972-7171 or sswd.org.

* Sacramento Marina, 2710 Ramp Way (enter from Front Street), Sacramento

Information: (916) 808-5605 or SacWaterWise.com.

On Saturday morning, May 20, mulch will be available at Cokeva Parking Lot, 9000 Foothills Blvd., Roseville. (Enter at 9100 Foothills Blvd.) Open truck and trailer fill only—no shovels required.

Information: (916) 774-5761 or roseville.ca.us/mulchmayhem

More details: BeWaterSmart.info/mulch-mayhem.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

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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