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Ann Wright: Summer fun in the garden – workshop today

Ann Wright


And, just like that, it’s August!

There are so many ways to enjoy hot August days, and with a little summer vacation left before children go back to school, there are some activities to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Of course, gardening is of interest to people of all ages, but family activities with a focus on the garden is an excellent way to help children gain an appreciation of how food grows, and the variety of vegetables and fruits that can be grown at home.

The Master Gardeners of Nevada County have been offering a series of family fun in the garden workshops designed for families with children who garden (or want to start). The series started in April and will continue each month until October. Join the Master Gardeners for “Family Fun in the Demonstration Garden: Harvest Day” today from 10 a.m. to noon at our Demo Garden (1036 W. Main St. in Grass Valley). Come help harvest our bounty, as we will learn the best time and techniques for picking the vegetables from our garden to keep them providing even more for us. We will also learn “succession planting” – replacing spent plants with new ones to extend our harvest.

Come enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Coming up in September and October, the Family Fun in the Garden series will offer workshops on preparing the garden for cool weather on Saturday, Sept. 17, and on Saturday, Oct. 8, we’ll have a fall celebration. We will create fall wreaths, have a scavenger hunt, and enjoy all the things a fall garden has to offer. There will be lots of hands-on activities for all ages to enjoy together.

These family workshops, led by Master Gardeners, are designed for parents, grandparents and children ages 4 and older. Adults must stay at the entire workshop and participate with their children. Bring water, sunscreen, hats and gloves and be ready to play in the dirt!

August also means it’s time for our wonderful Nevada County Fair. There are so many landscape and garden-related activities at the fair – with fun for all ages. The Master Gardeners will be part of the fair again this year. Our booth will be set up in the Family Farm area (formerly AgSperience), behind Treat Street. Stop by to learn answers to those nagging home gardening questions, or to see the demonstration of the compost pile. Also, we will offer several onsite workshops each day of the fair.

A full line up is available in the fair program book as well as on our website. Our workshop lineup includes:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 11:30 a.m. – “Growing Garlic” – which kind, when to plant and when to harvest. At 1 p.m. – “What’s Bugging Your Garden?” – Bring pests sealed in a ziplock bag, or a jar for identification.
  • Thursday Aug. 11 at 10:30 a.m. – “Shade Gardening”; at 11:30 a.m., “Weeds in the Garden”; at 1 p.m. – “Foothill Gardening with Deer”
  • Friday Aug. 12 at 10:30 a.m. – “Gardening Under the Oaks”; at 11:30 a.m. – “Gardening for Birds”; and at 1 p.m. – “Composting”
  • Saturday, Aug. 13 at 10:30 a.m. – “Growing Peppers”; at 11:30 a.m. – “Worm Composting”
  • Sunday, Aug. 14 at 10:30 a.m. – “Growing Irises in the Foothills” – Free Iris corms to all attendees; at 11:30 a.m. – “Caring for Your Garden Tools”

The popular “Little Sprouts” flower painting will be available for children each day of the fair, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Master Gardener’s tent. Children and families are invited to assemble and paint a wooden sunflower stake to take home to their own gardens! (The wooden flowers are cut by our own Master Gardeners, and are ready to paint.)

Summer will soon be waning, with fall on the horizon. With that, growing vegetables from fall and into the winter is a great way to enjoy plants that thrive in the cool season. Cool-season vegetables grow best and produce the best-quality crops when average temperatures are 55°F to 75°F, and they usually tolerate slight frost when mature.

Success depends on bringing plants to maturity in cool weather because in hot conditions many become bitter tasting and may bolt to seed rather than produce edible parts. Cool-season vegetables can be planted from transplants approximately six weeks prior to the first frost date.

In general, and in consideration of the weather at any given moment, the first fall frost date may fall anytime between the end of October for higher elevations to as late as the end of November in lower parts of the county. Seeds for cool-weather crops can be started indoors beginning in August.

To learn more, join the Master Gardeners for a workshop Saturday, Aug. 20 – “Growing Cool Season Vegetables” from 10 a.m. to noon at the Demonstration Garden. Watch our website http://www.ncmg.ucanr.org for more information about upcoming workshops, gardening in drought and winter gardening.

Have some fun in the garden!

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener

A garden container at the MG Demonstration Garden, painted and planted by children who attended the Family Fun in the Garden programs this summer.
Submitted by Ann Wright


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