Ann Wright: It’s time for tomatoes |

Ann Wright: It’s time for tomatoes

Ann Wright

Hurry! There may still be time to attend the Nevada County Master Gardener’s very popular annual “Bite Me” Tomato Tasting and Open House today from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Demonstration Garden at the NID Business Complex in Grass Valley, 1036 W. Main St. The garden is full of color this time of year, and tomatoes certainly stand out amidst the fading green of plant foliage and bronze fronds of fennel. Ripening tomatoes herald autumnal celebrations of this versatile fruit. Tomatoes will indeed be in the spotlight today as dozens of varieties of tomatoes are lined up like little soldiers awaiting inspection. Participant “Judges” will have the opportunity to taste and compare any or all of the tomatoes on display. Tomato rating sheets will be provided for each taster; the results compiled for use in planning next year’s varieties to start for the spring plant sale.

And, if tomatoes are not enough, workshops and tours of the demonstration garden will also be provided at the open house. Two workshops will be offered — from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. “Edible Gardening” will be presented. And, to the delight of wee princesses and those who enjoy a bit of whimsy in the garden, “How to Build Fairy Gardens” will be presented from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tours of the Demonstration Garden will follow the workshops, and Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions about Tomatoes and other home gardening concerns. So, join us at the Demonstration Garden from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today!

Fall garden

As September is upon us, it is also time to focus on the fall garden. Cool season vegetables can be planted now, including beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, Swiss chard, onions, peas, radishes, kale, lettuce and other greens. Cool-season vegetables will be available at the Master Gardener’s fall plant sale, Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon. In addition to vegetables, a variety of perennials, native plants and grasses will also be available. Some of the plants for sale include native milkweed (Asclepias), pineapple sage (Salvia elegans), canyon snow iris (Iris douglasiana) and Sedum ‘Angelina” and many others. Some of the grasses include Karl Forester (Calamagrostis x acutiflora), morning light miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis) and bunny tail grass (Lagurus ovatum). For a more complete list of plants to be offered at the fall plant sale, check the website at and click on the link to the plant sale list from the home page.

If growing vegetables is not in the plan this fall, consider planting a cover crop to avoid fallow ground and to help improve the quality of the soil in the garden bed. Cover crops, often referred to as “green manure” are planted in the fall (or spring), allowed to grow over the rainy season, and then chopped up and spaded into the soil next spring. As well as increasing organic matter and available nitrogen in the soil, the benefits of a cover crop include decreasing compaction of the soil and improving water and air penetration. Some cover crops also provide habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects. Cover crop seed is available at some local nurseries and hardware stores.

For questions about Master Gardener events, or home gardening questions, contact our Hotline at 530-272-0919 or stop by our office at 255 South Auburn St. in Grass Valley where Master Gardeners are on duty Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.

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