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What: Plant Sale
Who: University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of El Dorado County
Where: Veterans Memorial Building parking lot, 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville
When: Saturday, April 19 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Cost: No admission fee
With spring here to stay, it’s time to put in a garden and there’s no better place to get healthy affordable starter plants than at the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of El Dorado County plant sale Saturday, April 19.
More than 4,600 plants will be available, giving gardeners a dizzying array of choices including probably the most popular homegrown vegetable of all — tomatoes. More than 900 heirloom tomatoes will be on sale plus common and not so common varieties of herbs, peppers, squashes and other veggies.
For those wanting to fill in or change out parts of their gardens, there will be a large supply of trees, shrubs, perennials, native plants, ground covers and grasses — many of which are drought tolerant. With the water shortage on everyone’s mind, some homeowners are replacing their lawns with ground covers as they are less work and use less water. To make it easier for people to choose which plants best fit their landscape, drought tolerant plants are labeled as such.
Plenty to choose from
Annuals for sale include: sweet wormwood, swan river daisy, amethyst flower, fairy duster, ornamental pepper, bachelor’s button, sweet william, purple toadflax, tiger monkey flower, marvel of Peru, shoofly plant, wild petunia and Mexican sunflower.
Groundcovers and grasses for sale are: Japanese sweet flag (two varieties), carpet bugle, pheasant’s-tail grass, reed grass, sedge, snow-in-summer, sea oats, hardy cyclamen, tufted hair grass, Santa Barbara daisy, common blue fescue, variegated Japanese forest grass and many other varieties.
All types of herbs will be available including: different varieties of chives as well as horseradish, borage, epazote, lemon grass, lavender, lemon and sweet balm; different varieties of mint such as spearmint, apple, pineapple, peppermint, chocolate, mojito and catmint. Unusual types of basil will be for sale including licorice-scented, lemon-scented, Thai, sweet and African blue. Other more common herbs available include: oregano, wild marjoram, scented geranium, curly leaf parsley, rosemary, savory, thyme and different kinds of sage.
For the house, decorative plants offered for purchase are: queen’s tears, bamboo palm, spider plant, standard cymbidium orchid, corn plant, Swedish ivy, African violet, mother-in-law’s tongue, purple heart and giant yucca.
For lovers of succulents, there are: pinwheels, jade plants, ghost plants, elephant’s food and stonecrop.
A large number of native plants will be available with most of them being water wise and well suited to the Mediterranean climate of El Dorado County. Examples include: California buckeye, false and desert indigo, creeping, vine hill and bearberry manzanita, dwarf coyote brush, incense cedar, California meadow sedge, California wild lilac, western redbud, desert willow and redtwig dogwood.
Colorful perennials for the yard include: yarrow, purple giant hyssop, hollyhock, lady’s mantle, Peruvian lily (pink), Japanese anenome, snapdragons, columbine, blue stars, fringed wormwood, swamp milkweed, cast-iron plant, New England and New York asters, blackberry lily, Jupiter’s beard, florists’ chrysanthemum, Billy buttons, purple coneflower, gladioli, daylilies, hibiscus, a wide variety of hostas, iris, bee balm and many more varieties.
Shrubs and trees for sale include different varieties of: maples along with mimosa, azaleas, Grecian horehound, Japanese barberry, butterfly bushes, flowering quince, cashmere bouquet, flowering dogwood, smoke trees, English hawthorn, Chinese knotweed, weeping forsythia, rose of Sharon, common hop, different varieties of hydrangea, crape Myrtle, all kinds of lavender, box honeysuckle, bamboo, a wide variety of roses, willows, Mexican bush sage, spirea, germander, chase tree, common lilac and wisteria.
And saving the best for last are all the wonderful tomato and vegetable starter plants that are waiting for gardeners to take home so they can turn out healthy and tasty produce.
Good year for a garden
This year is a particularly good year to put in a vegetable garden as the drought may drive up prices for fresh produce at the market according to Merry Campbell, Master Gardener.
If you’re concerned about water usage, consider drip irrigation as a way to put the right amount of water where it’s needed. Other water saving tips will be available at the plant sale Campbell pointed out.
Tomatoes available include all kinds of paste and cherry tomatoes with names like “box car Willie,” “brandywine,” “Cherokee purple,” “Kentucky beefsteak” and “Mr. Stripey.”
Hybrid favorites include: “beefsteak,” “better boy,” “big beef,” “celebrity,” “sun sugar,” and “supersweet 100.”
Veggie choices available at the sale are: cabbage, celery root, Japanese cucumber, different varieties of kale and lettuce including mache — also known as corn salad, baby pak choi, all kinds of bell peppers and hot peppers, sorrel, spinach, zucchini, a wide variety of squash, chard, onions, okra, mustard, tomatillos, artichokes, broccoli, eggplant and leeks.
All the vegetables are labeled including name, maturity date, whether it’s heirloom or not, determinate or indeterminate, zone and growing conditions along with a picture of what it looks like when mature.
Information and answers
Other than plants, there will be educational booths on worm composting, herbs, beekeeping and Integrated Pest Management.
Information on drought tolerant plants, invasive plants and water conservation in the house and garden will be available as well as a list of deer resistant plants. Shoppers can also buy books on different gardening topics.
Campbell, who’s in charge of the plant sale, said she expects to have 35 to 60 volunteers helping with the event. This is the 10th sale put on by the local Master Gardener group. The proceeds are going towards creating a demonstration garden with a portion going towards public outreach.
To date the plant sales have generated the $70,000 used in creating the demonstration garden that is taking shape at Folsom Lake College, El Dorado Center, 6699 Campus Drive in Placerville.
Even with most of the work being done with volunteers, Campbell said she expects by the time the garden is finished, $100,000 will have been invested in the creation and construction of the garden. She noted that its true worth is several times that amount.
People can visit the demonstration garden to see how much progress has been made. The major work has been done on infrastructure with planting set for the future.
Campbell said some planting will begin this spring and fall but it will be several years before the garden is fully mature.
As for why people should come to the plant sale and start their own vegetable garden, Campbell said, “It’s for taste. You save money and it’s healthier food because you know where it came from. More than anything, it’s the pure enjoyment and satisfaction of having fresh picked food from the garden.”
The sale on Saturday is from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building parking lot, 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville.
Please have cash or checks only — no credit cards will be accepted.
For more information visit the Master Gardener Website at ucanr.edu/sites/EDC_Master_Gardeners/. Master Gardeners is also on Facebook. Master Gardeners is part of the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.