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Farmer Fred shares how to grow a 'Heart Healthy Garden'

After heart surgery, popular garden expert changed his life with homegrown vegetables, fruit

"Farmer Fred" Hoffman will speak at the Feb. 8 meeting of the Sacramento Rose Society.

"Farmer Fred" Hoffman will speak at the Feb. 8 meeting of the Sacramento Rose Society. Courtesy Fred Hoffman

February is Heart Health Awareness Month. With that in mind, the Sacramento Rose Society has the perfect inspirational speaker and topic: longtime broadcaster/podcaster Farmer Fred Hoffman and “The Heart Healthy Garden.”

Farmer Fred will present his personal story of heart-healthy gardening and discovery at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, at the club’s meeting at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park. The public is welcome. Admission and parking are free.

Farmer Fred knows firsthand how his own heart-healthy garden changed his life. In March 2012, the award-winning radio host was diagnosed with FOUR cholesterol-blocked heart arteries. His doctor also told him he had full-blown Type 2 diabetes. (His A1C was 10.4.)

He underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass graft surgery, then embarked on the long road to healing. That included a makeover of his diet.

Farmer Fred lost more than 60 pounds – and kept the weight off. An avid cyclist, he rides his bike more than 100 miles a week. He no longer needs to take diabetes medication and is active as ever in his garden and the community.

His secret? Growing, and eating, heart-healthy fruits and vegetables, loaded with fiber. That includes artichokes, blueberries, apricots, shell beans and green peas.

Farmer Fred will share how anyone can help their own heart health via fiber-packed fruit and vegetables. Besides his personal health experience, he’s also one of the leading gardening experts in California. A lifetime master gardener, Fred has been certified by the UC Cooperative Extension program for more than 40 years and has logged well over 10,000 hours as a master gardener volunteer.

Most Sacramentans know Farmer Fred from his four decades as host of his award-winning radio shows, “Get Growing with Farmer Fred,” “The KFBK Garden Show” and “The KSTE Farm Hour.” Now he shares his talents with a national audience online via his podcast, “Garden Basics with Farmer Fred.”

His garden has evolved, too. He and his wife, Jeanne, traded their 10-acre ranchette in Herald for a suburban home and backyard in Folsom. Although his garden’s footprint is much smaller, it’s still packed with the heart-healthy foods that changed his life.

Come hear Farmer Fred and learn how you, too, can make a difference in your own heart health. Shepard Center is located at 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento.

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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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