Grow For It! Answers to farmers market gardening questions

By From page B3 | July 16, 2014

Kit SmithBy far the majority of questions asked of UCCE Master Gardeners at the farmers market booth concern water use and irrigation. Here are a few of the suggestions we make.

Consider having lawn only where desired, for entertainment or play.

Drip irrigation is one way to get water deep down to the roots of plants where water is needed. Make sure the system is functioning, not weather-worn or damaged by animals.

Water an appropriate amount: infrequent and deep. A slower pace of irrigation will allow the water to soak in and not run off the top of the soil.

Thirsty roots become more drought tolerant. Water early in the day to cut down on water waste from evaporation.

With limited available water, prioritize what to water in the garden. That big tree may need water to keep shading what is thriving underneath or the adult oaks and pines which have had insufficient water the past three winters could use some help to keep them stress and infestation-free.

Taking into consideration less water availability, deadhead spent blossoms. This enables plants to use its energy and water to produce continuous vegetables or flowers.

At each farmers market there is a tomato question or two. Tomatoes are happiest in warm weather that includes night temperatures. Place mulch on new and existing plants to cool the roots and decrease water evaporation. Mulch can include compost and more people are interested in composting. There are more details about composting in an article written by fellow UCCE Master Gardener Thorne Barrager at

Summer is a less preferable time to plant. Instead, think about fall and winter. When planning, group together plants with similar water and other needs.

The weather this past winter is the reason why cherry trees have few cherries. Winter temperatures were not cold enough; there were insufficient chill hours and not enough rain. There might be more ants in your house because of the lack of water, too. Check out

Deer are hungry and eating what they usually may not eat. Consider deer fencing to protect prized plants.

There is no Master Gardener public education class Saturday, July 19. UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County are available to answer home gardening questions at local farmers markets and at its office Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m.-noon by calling 530-621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome at the office located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville.

For more information about the public education classes and activities go to the Master Gardener Website at Sign up to receive the online notices and e-newsletter at You can also find Master Gardeners on Facebook.

Kit Smith

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