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Tomato superstar Brad Gates to offer his top tips

Wild Boar Farms breeder will be at Green Acres in Auburn and Sacramento

Brad Gates, right, answer questions from gardeners after his tomato presentation at Green Acres' Sacramento store in February 2023. Other attendees look over the tomato plant selection he brought with him.

Brad Gates, right, answer questions from gardeners after his tomato presentation at Green Acres' Sacramento store in February 2023. Other attendees look over the tomato plant selection he brought with him. Kathy Morrison

The man who brought us more colorful (and flavorful) tomatoes is giving local gardeners an opportunity to get his tomato-growing advice at two in-person events.

Brad Gates, who introduced such popular tomato varieties as Berkeley Tie-Dye and Brad’s Atomic Grape, will be the February guest of “Garden Talk” at Green Acres Nursery & Supply in Auburn and Sacramento.

Gates is the owner of Wild Boar Farms, famous for its multicolored varieties with crazy names. Wild Boar produces “the most outrageous tomato varieties available on the planet,” Gates says on his website. “Our focus is in breeding stunning-looking tomato varieties with extreme flavor. ...

"Our tomato varieties are the result of many years of hard work growing tens of thousands of plants, being very picky about seed selection and capitalizing on some amazing gifts from Mother Nature.”

Gates is always working on new varieties to add to Wild Boar’s collection. Seeds are available online at https://www.wildboarfarms.com/. Transplants will be available at Green Acres as well as Talini’s Nursery, The Plant Foundry and Redwood Barn Nursery in early spring.

“Tomatoes have changed more in the last 10 years than they have in their entire existence,” Gates adds. “The bar is being raised and tomato lovers can now reap the rewards. I consider these tomato varieties the ‘Heirlooms of the Future.’ ”

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, Gates will preview his new tomato introductions for 2024 as well as offer his tomato growing tips at the Green Acres at Eisley’s, 380 Nevada St. in Auburn.

At 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, Gates will repeat his Garden Talk and share new varieties at Green Acres’ Sacramento store and nursery, 8501 Jackson Road.

Admission to each event is free.

For more details and directions: https://idiggreenacres.com/.

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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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