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March program puts experts on stage

Talks to range from bees to soil at A Gardeners’ Gathering in Loomis
By: Gloria Young, Home & Garden
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When the Placer County Master Gardeners decided to have a day of workshops last year — A Gardeners’ Gathering — the response exceeded their expectations. “We weren’t sure now many (participants) we would have,” coordinator Karen Covey said. “We ended up with a sold-out event. We had 140 people.” This year’s line-up of speakers includes Steve Zien, president of Living Resources Company; home and garden writer Pat Rubin; Missy Borel, program manager for the U.C. Davis California Center for Urban Horticulture; Seth Taylor, manager of Capital Nursery and Nevada County beekeeper Rob Slay. “We try to get speakers who not everybody has heard, and who have topics that would be unique or different,” Covey said. Zien will cover soil structure and attracting biologically friendly insects to the garden. “He basically just has a passion for soil, not using chemical pesticides and encouraging an entire environment to have a healthy soil structure,” Covey said. Zien has been a professional organic horticulturist for more than 30 years and speaks frequently to area garden groups and growers. He’ll talk about how to manage soil critters. “(I tell them) that the soil is alive and that they need to stop fertilizing the plants and start fertilizing the soil,” he said. “If they take care of the soil critters, those critters will take care of their plants. It’s all about the soil-food web.” Rubin’s presentation will be on square-foot vegetable gardening — gardening inside a box. Borel will talk about the U.C. Davis arboretum identification of 100 plants that do extremely well in the local environment. “The plants are attractive most of the year, they thrive in our conditions, they’re drought tolerant and they attract beneficial insects,” Covey said. “There’s a very nice brochure and it is broken down into perennials, shrubs and trees. There’s a photo of each of these all-star plants — a mini Sunset guide. It should be an informative session to help people choose the right plants.” Taylor will share information on some plants he found from Australia that are very adaptable to local growing conditions. Slay, owner of 2 B Honey, will discuss the importance of bees, not just as honey makers but as pollinators and what can be done to encourage healthy bee pollination in the yard. “I understand he brings a very interactive exhibit,” Covey said. “He brings a slice of a beehive and some bees, so we can actually see what that’s all about.” The gathering also will include exhibits, including one on composting. PlacerGrown will be there with maps and a display. There’ll be a Master Gardener table where attendees can ask questions and discuss their particular garden issues. The Golden Foothills Garden Club will have a table showcasing area garden clubs and the Roseville Utility Center will have information on energy-saving and water-wise gardening. A Gardeners’ Gathering is being held at the Blue Goose Fruit Shed in Downtown Loomis, the same site as last year. “It is centrally located and is a nice facility and we just thought it had the right ambiance for our scene and our mission as master gardeners,” Covey said. Jewell DeLapp, of Colfax, attended last year’s program and she’ll be there this year, too. “I already have my ticket,” she said. “It was outstanding.” One thing that impressed her was the quality of the speakers. “There was (a talk) on fruit trees that I found very interesting,” she said. “I have a small orchard, which I’m not very successful at (tending). So I came away with some new ideas.” ---------- A Gardeners’ Gathering When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 7 Where: Blue Goose Fruit Shed, downtown Loomis Cost: $25, including lunch Reservations: Register online at ceplacer@ucdavis.edu or in person at the UCCE office, 11477 E Ave., DeWitt Center, North Auburn