Ann Wright: From Arugula to Zinnias: Master Gardener’s Spring Plant Sale set for May 11
At the end of the day at last year’s spring plant sale, Nevada County Master Gardeners were storing pop-up canopies, cleaning up pots and pallets but also making notes from the day.
Plans for the next spring plant sale had already begun.
An evaluation of what plants sell well, which plants are reported to have grown well and lots of logistical information is garnered with each plant sale event. In January, the process of ordering seed and starting plants for the spring plant sale continues and the fund-raising event gains momentum.
Once seed stock has been selected, seeds are planted in small soil trays and then transplanted to larger pots for further rooting and growth. The addition of a new hoop house at the Demonstration Garden has enabled the Master Gardeners to house and care for on site, hundreds of vegetables and flowers which will be offered for sale at our plant sale from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 11. Just in time for Mother’s Day, this is a good opportunity to select from locally grown plants.
The cash or check-only sale starts promptly at 9 a.m., but plan to arrive early for the best selection. The Demonstration Garden is at the NID Business complex at 1036 W. Main Street in Grass Valley.
From Arugula to Zinnias — there will be lots of choices from which to choose to grow this season. Herbs include several types of basil, as well as cilantro, dill, parsley, chives and fennel. Cantaloupe and hybrid melon plants will be in supply in addition to several varieties of summer and winter squash. In the cool season category, kale, Swiss chard and greens will be offered.
The three “P” peppers – Padron, Pasilla and Piquillo will be available. Try a Spanish heirloom pepper (Padron) which gets hotter the bigger it gets, or the smoky flavor of Pasilla. For those who want to spice things up a bit, serrano and jalapeño pepper plants will be available. Why not try a lemon or striped cucumber, or black beauty eggplant? These and many other varieties will be offered.
For tomato lovers, starts of open-pollinated, heirloom and hybrid varieties will be for sale. 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.
Determinate or indeterminate? 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.
Flower starts will be plentiful this year – with almost 20 varieties of zinnias, Master Gardeners will also offer starts of marigold, dahlias and cosmos. A personal favorite: cupcake cosmos. For a listing of plants with descriptions of each, check the website at http://www.ncmg.ucanr.org .
The Master Gardener’s spring plant sale is brimming with new ideas for home gardeners. 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! We hope to see you there. 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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