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Sacramento master gardeners host early-evening Open Garden

Thursday event coincides with Fair Oaks' Summer Preview

Check out the various types of berries developing in the Berry Patch at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, during Open Garden on Thursday evening from 4 to 7 p.m.

Check out the various types of berries developing in the Berry Patch at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, during Open Garden on Thursday evening from 4 to 7 p.m. Kathy Morrison

Got garden questions? Who doesn’t, considering our weird spring weather? Here’s your chance to get expert advice from Sacramento County master gardeners – at a time convenient to folks who can’t make weekend mornings.

On Thursday evening, May 4, the master gardeners will host an Open Garden event at Fair Oaks Horticulture Center in Fair Oaks Park – rain or shine. Admission and parking are free.

From 4 to 7 p.m., watch master gardeners as they tend to spring tasks and prepare for summer planting and rapid growth.

“Join us for an evening in the garden,” say the master gardeners. “Bring your family and friends to see the new spring growth in our garden for ideas to use in yours. From vegetables in raised beds, grapes grown in barrels, fragrant herbs or espalier fruit. You will be motivated to start gardening this season.”

The master gardeners suggest these activities during Open Garden:

* Berries: Notice the varieties of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries for our region.

* Compost: See various ways to turn your backyard and kitchen waste into high-grade organic fertilizer.

*Herbs: Note culinary herbs in full display -- pleasing to the eyes and nose alike.

* Orchard: See all the varieties of fruit starting develop.

* Vegetables: The All-American colorful demonstration garden is ready for spring.

* Vineyard: Walk through the delicious varieties of grapes and see how they can be grown.

* Water Efficient Landscape: Look for pollinators among the native grasses and shrubs.

Got a garden mystery, problem pest or puzzling plant? Bring photos and/or sample (in a sealed plastic zipper bag) to the Ask a Master Gardener table.

Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is located at 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks.

And there’s more! On that same evening, from 5 to 7 p.m., Fair Oaks Park is hosting the park district’s “Summer Preview” with community booths, registration for summer programs, classic cars and food trucks. This event also is free.

Visit the master gardeners, then check out the community programs and get dinner.

Details and directions: https://sacmg.ucanr.edu.

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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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