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Enjoy a nature break (with shopping) at Soil Born Farms

American River Ranch hosts Saturday walks, workshop, produce stand and gift shop

Produce grown on site at the American River Ranch is available at Soil Born Farms' stand on Saturday. Soil Born also presents morning nature walks and a workshop this Saturday.

Produce grown on site at the American River Ranch is available at Soil Born Farms' stand on Saturday. Soil Born also presents morning nature walks and a workshop this Saturday. Courtesy Soil Born Farms

Take a nature break this holiday weekend – and get some stress-free shopping done, too.

Soil Born Farms’ American River Ranch hosts several nature walks and talks on Saturday, Dec. 9. That same morning, the ranch’s produce stand will be open, as will its gift shop and nursery.

At 8:30 a.m., join naturalist Cliff Hawley during a 90-minute guided “Bird Walk.”

“Start your morning off with a pleasant walk around American River Ranch,” say the organizers. “We will experience a variety of resident and migratory birds. Cliff will point out other critters and plant life along the way. This walk is ideal for beginner to intermediate birdwatchers.”

Fee is $15 with advance registration required online.

At 10 a.m., herbs take the spotlight during a 90-minute walk with Kellan MacKay, owner of Khela Herbs. Not only will he discuss herbs growing at the ranch, but will demonstrate how to use some of his favorites in herbal tea during “Herb Walk, Talk and Tea.”

“Join Kellan for an easy walk around the American River Ranch and Cordova Creek to identify and talk about the medicinal uses of over 20 plants,” say the hosts. “We will discuss the growth habitat, harvest requirements, and how to use each plant. Some may be familiar friends, but the information about them may be new, and others you may have never encountered before.

“This plant-centered walk is sure to be light-hearted and enjoyable as well as educational! Bring your close-toed shoes and hats for protection. A cup of herbal tea and a short discussion about it is included in this walk.”

Fee is $20 with advance registration required online.

Also at 10 a.m., find out how to convert boring lawn to a pollinator-friendly paradise that can feed your family, too, during the workshop “Lawn to Garden.”

“Learn how to turn your lawn into a thriving food forest!” say the organizers. “We will cover how to get rid of the grass, what to plant when, amending soil, ongoing care, irrigation, and more!”

Jenn MacLeod, owner of Sunflower and Sage Gardens, will lead the 2-1/2-hour class. Fee is $30; advance registration is required.

Proceeds from each of these walks and workshops support the American River Ranch Restoration and Development Fund.

In addition, the ranch’s popular produce stand is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The real treats and potential gifts can be found at Milly’s Mercantile, open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We’ve curated a delicious collection of local farm goods, pantry staples and handcrafted products, Camina bread, Real Pie Company frozen pot pies, homemade soup by the quart from our Farmstand Kitchen and beautiful floral wreaths,” say the hosts. “We are proud to feature the creations of local artisans. Start your holiday shopping early and check out the local, unique and practical gifts we offer in Milly’s Mercantile.”

Looking for a new fruit tree? Soil Born’s Garden Greenhouse and Fruit Tree Nursery also will be open Saturday morning. “Fruit trees are a thoughtful, practical gift that keeps on giving,” Soil Born says.

Among the trees in stock now are: Mission Black and Brown Turkey figs; Comice and Warren pears; Coffeecake persimmons and Dapple Supreme pluots.

Soil Born’s American River Ranch is located at 2140 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova.

Details, directions and registration: https://soilborn.org/.

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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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