Ann Wright: Master Gardeners plant sale |

Ann Wright: Master Gardeners plant sale

The Master Gardener plant sale will have over 40 varieties of tomatoes available, including cherries, slicers, paste and beefsteak tomatoes, including open-pollinated, hybrid and heirloom varieties.
Courtesy of UC Master Gardeners

With May flowers in bloom, Mother’s Day will soon be here, heralding the Nevada County Master Gardeners annual spring plant sale from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 12.

Master Gardeners start the process in January by considering what grows well in our area as well as plants that have been popular at previous plant sales. Once seed has been selected, seeds are planted in small soil trays and then transplanted to larger pots for further rooting and growth.

Plants being offered for sale are all nurtured and grown locally by Master Gardeners. Offering dozens of varieties of ornamental and vegetable plant starts, the Master Gardener’s spring plant sale is brimming with new ideas for home gardeners.

With four varieties of arugula to over a dozen types of peppers, variety is abundant.

The list of plants to be offered at the sale is on the Master Gardener website This list offers a description of plants as well as other information that may help in choosing plants for your gardens. And, of course there will be tomatoes for sale.

Tomato overload

Over 40 varieties of tomatoes are being offered, including cherries, slicers, beefsteak and paste tomatoes, including open-pollinated, heirloom and hybrid varieties. Open pollinated plants are from seed of plants that have been pollinated by bees, birds, wind and other natural means.

Open pollinated plants are considered true to type (meaning true to parent plant) and are more genetically diverse, adapting to local conditions and climate over time.

Heirloom plants are those with history behind them such as plants from seed handed down over generations. Heirloom seeds are open pollinated, but not all open pollinated plants are considered heirlooms.

Hybrid plants are deliberately pollinated by man with the intention of developing plants with specific characteristics such as color or disease resistance. For example, an F1 hybrid (first generation) refers to the crossing of two plants with specific characteristics which then produce a third plant that has the specific characteristic plant breeders wish to develop.

Determinate & indeterminate

In terms of tomato diseases, some plants are grown for resistance to specific diseases. For example, the “Red Racer” hybrid VFFNST is a cherry tomato with resistance to verticillium and fusarium wilts, nematodes, stemphylium grey leaf spot and tobacco mosaic virus. (This plant is also a UC Davis Arboretum All Star winner.)

Tomato types are also described as determinate and indeterminate.

Determinate tomatoes are considered bush-type plants with more contained growth.

Once leaf growth is complete, fruit is set with ripening generally at the same time. Determinate tomatoes are good for those who like to freeze or preserve fruit of the season.

Indeterminate tomatoes are considered vining tomatoes that seem to meander all over the place and may require caging or staking for support. Indeterminate tomatoes produce fruit throughout the growing season until first frost.

In addition to tomatoes, other plants to be offered at the plant sale include melon, squash, cucumber and a variety of herbs.

There will also be several types of grasses, and other ornamentals such as coral bells, spirea, sedum and California native flowering pink and white currents (Ribes). Also available will be several varieties of cosmos, marigold and zinnias.

Bring carts, wagons, boxes and come to the Master Gardeners spring plant sale, next Saturday, May 12. Come early for the best selection — the rope “gate” will drop right at 9 a.m.

Please bring cash or checks only. All money received from Master Gardener plant sales goes directly back to the Nevada County Master Gardener program — and we are grateful to all who attend!

For questions about the plant sale, or other home gardening questions, call the hotline at 530-273-0919.

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.

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