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Expand your backyard orchard at Scion Exchange

California Rare Fruit Growers host popular event Feb. 4

This was the Scion Exchange in 2018. The "swap meet" of fruiting wood this year will be held Feb. 4.

This was the Scion Exchange in 2018. The "swap meet" of fruiting wood this year will be held Feb. 4. Courtesy Sacramento chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers

Learn how to expand your backyard orchard without planting more trees. And this fun and fascinating event has everything you need to add new varieties to your existing fruit trees via grafting.

It’s the annual Scion Exchange, one of Sacramento’s most popular winter gardening events. Hosted by the Sacramento Chapter of California Rare Fruit Growers, the exchange is like a big community swap meet of fruiting wood. Scions are young shoots that can be grafted onto other trees or root stock.

Set for Sunday, Feb. 4, the exchange will be held at La Sierra Community Center, 5325 Engle Road, Carmichael. CRFG members get the first crack at selecting scions from 10 to 11 a.m. (and also sharing their own). Then, the exchange is open to the general public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Want to be an early bird? Anyone interested in joining the CRFG chapter can do so in advance of the event. Membership is $29. Sign up here:

For $5 admission, participants can select from dozens of varieties of deciduous fruit and nut trees from apples to walnuts. The assortment usually includes many heirloom varieties that are hard to find elsewhere.

Learn the basics of grafting, too, and how to add variety to your existing trees. Create a “fruit basket” tree with an assortment of plums, pluots and peaches on one trunk, or a “rainbow apple” tree that bears green, red and yellow fruit that ripens throughout the season instead of all at once. (Sorry, no citrus; just deciduous fruit and nuts are allowed at this exchange.)

What to bring? The organizers ask participants to bring exact change – $5 cash – and some supplies: Zippered plastic baggies (preferably 1 gallon size), masking or painter’s tape, a heavy marking pen (that way participants can label scions as they pick them up) plus a larger bag or backpack to put everything in.

Also, bring your wish list of varieties; you may be able to find them.

“Come join us to learn more about grafting! We encourage people to bring scions in labeled baggies from their own trees,” say the organizers. “Please insure they are not under patent and NO citrus. There will be tables of bags so please join us whether you can bring scions or not. We ask that you only take one or two scions from the varieties you want. Be sure to wrap tape around those scions and label them!

“There will be a few vendors selling items and also tables with items that you can root: figs, berries, etc. There will be chairs available to sit but wear comfortable shoes to wander around the tables.”

Details: or email


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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