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Too dark to garden late: Time to sit down with YouTube and the master gardeners

Sacramento video program an award winner

Tips on worm composting -- including the right type of worms -- are in one of the Sacramento County master gardeners' YouTube videos.

Tips on worm composting -- including the right type of worms -- are in one of the Sacramento County master gardeners' YouTube videos. Screen grab from "Making a Worm Bin"

Darkness has descended on the garden. Even on a clear day now, 4:30 p.m. is dark enough to remind gardeners to put away their tools soon and head indoors.

But the short gardening days of November and December still can be put to use: A wealth of gardening videos awaits. And preferably local ones, filmed for the Sacramento-area climate and gardening culture.

The UCCE master gardeners of Sacramento County have an active YouTube channel, with short, to-the-point videos. And the video program now is an award winner, receiving third place in this year's statewide Search for Excellence competition at the UCCE Master Gardeners Conference last month. The video submitted for the competition will debut at noon Nov. 16 on YouTube. Watch a presentation that day here on Facebook live.

In the meantime, here are suggestions for viewing this time of year:

-- Making a Worm Bin with master gardener Patty Peterson. Start a bin now and you could have rich worm castings to use in the garden next spring. A companion video shows how to harvest the castings.

-- Sharpening Hand Pruners, with master gardener Bill Black. Gardeners use their pruners all year, and it's easy for them to grow dull. This is a clear, concise instructional video that you'll come back to annually.

-- Gardening Year 'Round with Farmer Fred Hoffman. This 18-minute video was Fred's keynote talk for the 2021 all-online Harvest Day celebration. Though filmed for August viewing,  it includes pertinent information for November and December on planting radishes, carrots and kale. He also discusses raised beds and cold frames for protecting cool-season vegetables, and advocates cover crops for gardens that are not being planted in winter. "At least feed your soil," indeed.

The statewide Master Gardener Program also has plenty of videos, available here. Happy viewing!

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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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