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Celebrate (last-minute) Halloween at pumpkin patches, corn mazes

Procrastinators can still get in the spirit at these favorite haunts

The corn maze at Cool Patch Pumpkins in Dixon covers 60 acres. Halloween is the last day to try it out this year.

The corn maze at Cool Patch Pumpkins in Dixon covers 60 acres. Halloween is the last day to try it out this year. Courtesy Cool Patch Pumpkins

Happy (almost) Halloween! If you haven’t already, there’s still time to get in the Halloween spirit – and enjoy some time outdoors, too.

While pumpkin pickings may be slim at neighborhood supermarkets, there are still plenty of distinctive and good-looking gourds at local pumpkin patches. All seven Green Acres Nursery & Supply locations will keep their pumpkin patches open through (at least) Tuesday with more than a dozen varieties. (Uncarved pumpkins make good decorations for Thanksgiving, too.) Green Acres nurseries are located in Sacramento, Auburn, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rocklin and Roseville. For directions and details: www.idiggreenacres.com.

The biggest pumpkin patch in the Sacramento area is Dave’s Pumpkin Patch at Vierra Farms in West Sacramento. Open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Halloween Tuesday, Dave’s does a lot more than sell pumpkins. Located at 3010 Burrows Ave., the farm hosts its annual “Cornival” with hay ride, “jumping pillow,” corn maze, hay pyramid, hay maze and farm animals. Don’t miss Dave’s famous hot apple cider cinnamon donuts.

Admission is $12 per person, age 3 or older. Tots age 2 and younger admitted free. Because of its rural location, Dave’s accepts only cash or check on site. Tickets maybe purchased by debit or credit card in advance online: https://www.vierrafarms.com/.

Feel like taking a drive? Amador Flower Farm, known for its millions of daylilies, has its pumpkin patch and kid-friendly corn maze open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. Admission and parking are free. In the heart of Amador wine country, the flower farm is located near Plymouth less than an hour from downtown Sacramento. Details and directions: https://www.amadorflowerfarm.com/.

Our area’s biggest and most famous Halloween attraction: Cool Patch Pumpkins’ world’s largest corn maze. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, this Dixon attraction draws crowds from throughout Northern California. During the final countdown to Halloween, it’s a little less packed and only 20 miles from Sacramento.

With the help of GPS, the maze – which covers more than 60 acres – is cut differently every September. Allow at least an hour to get through the maze. Five bridges allow visitors to get above the corn and see the pattern – which is actually a tribute to farmers.

“Every year, the maze is completely unique,” says the owners. “This year, we honor the hard work and dedication it takes to be a modern day farmer! In the 1800s, 90 percent of the U.S. population lived on farms; today it is around 1 percent. So no matter who you are or where you're from, chances are you have farming in your heritage.”

More than 20 years ago, Cool Patch started as a pumpkin patch, and the Cooley family farm still boasts an amazing selection in its U-Pick fields (as well as pre-harvested pumpkins). Cool Patch grows more than 50 varieties of decorative pumpkins and gourds. Choose the one you want and pick it right off the vine.

Located at 6150 Dixon Ave. West, Cool Patch is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Halloween Tuesday. Admission is $22 for ages 6 and up; children age 5 and younger admitted free. Details and directions: https://www.coolpatchpumpkins.com/.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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