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Be prepared for 2024 with the Gardening Guide & Calendar

'Habitat Gardening' is the theme for the latest publication

The 2024 Gardening Guide & Calendar debuts Saturday at Harvest Day.

The 2024 Gardening Guide & Calendar debuts Saturday at Harvest Day. Kathy Morrison

The Sacramento County master gardeners' Harvest Day event not only is a celebration of the current gardening year, it also brings a subtle reminder that the 2024 gardening year is not that far off.

That's because the next Gardening Guide & Calendar goes on sale for the first time during Harvest Day,  this Saturday, Aug. 5, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The new price for this invaluable publication is $12, slightly higher than in previous years to cover increased costs. But it's still a bargain, stuffed with monthly gardening tips, a Sacramento planting guide and lists of websites to UC research-based gardening information.

The theme of the 2024 publication is " ... into the wild ... Habitat Gardening," defined as plantings that feed, shelter and otherwise benefit insects,  birds and other wildlife.  Each month's calendar pages features information on important plants for wildlife -- from oaks in January to winter berries in December -- while the back section goes into more detail on how to "habitat garden." Here's a sample:

"Creating a habitat garden can be as simple or as complicated as you want, and can be done on any size lot. Convert a traditional landscape to attract and support wild creatures. All, like us, need food, shelter and water to survive. Habitat gardening will provide all of those whether we have a large garden, a strip of yard or a sunny porch."

The Gardening Guide & Calendar features gorgeous plant pictures, many by local master gardeners Jan Fetler, Roxie Jones, Greta Lacin, Pam Bone and Pat Schink. Edited by Laura Cerles-Rogers, it's written by Sacramento master gardeners for Sacramento-area gardens. (Full disclosure: I'm also a contributor to the publication.)

As usual, the Gardening Guide & Calendar will be available soon at area retailers and online, but the debut sale is always at Harvest Day -- with the added incentive of no tax or shipping costs.

Harvest Day takes place at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Fair Oaks, just south of Madison Avenue. For more on Harvest Day, which has both free admission and parking, see our other blog posts this week or go to


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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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