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New calendar shows how to garden for less

Master Gardeners put focus on ‘dollars and sense’ expertise
By: Gloria Young, Home & Garden
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The new year is already in the lens with the arrival of the Placer County Master Gardeners’ 2010 calendar. Always eagerly anticipated, it is filled with day-by-day tips for novices to long-time green thumbs. Themed “Dollars & Sense Gardening,” the calendar offers inspiration for maintaining a flourishing yard in spite of a weak economy. Pauline Sakai, co-chairwoman of the project with Peggy Just Peterson, said 28 master gardeners worked on the calendar. Although, the gardening tips remain valid from year to year, it is an evolving process. “We’re always editing them and refining them,” Sakai said. “That’s why we always get better every year.” For instance, the 2010 calendar has more advice on summer pruning. “That seems to be the way people are going,” Sakai said. Each month includes a featured topics. “Of course we want to always encourage responsible gardening techniques in integrated pest management — the least toxic method of pest control — composting and water-wise,” she said. The “dollars and sense” topics include smart shopping, season extenders, growing your own veggies, recycling water, saving seed to save money and plant propagation. A more extensive article in back of the calendar shows the transformation of a lawn into water-wise landscaping. Although the calendar reflects the accumulated knowledge of the master gardeners, it also involves a lot of research. “It’s always a challenge,” Sakai said. “We don’t just want a pretty picture, but an article to go with it.” Peterson handles the editing. “Her challenge is to take 10 or 12 or however many writers who contribute, and put it into a consistent style and message,” Sakai said. The 13-month calendar includes theme photographs, most taken by local photographers. Sakai contributed four photos. Among them is May’s colorful arrangement of blanket flower, yarrow, butterfly weed, coneflower, hyssop and baby’s breath. “I wanted to choose flowers that were waterwise,” Sakai said. “I went around the yard and selected whatever was in bloom.” For the December topic — composting — Sakai’s photo shows her mother’s hands in a pail of composted soil. “She’s a retired master gardener,” Sakai said. Local photographer and gardener Rick Krach took other photos, and some are from the University of California, Davis Arboretum. “We wanted to promote the arboretum All-Stars,” Sakai said. It takes months of effort to create the calendar each year. In March, that dedication and creativity was rewarded when the committee won a first-place award in the International Master Gardeners Search for Excellence competition. Three years of calendar submissions were honored in the innovative projects category. Sakai, Peterson, Julie Saare-Edmonds and Lori Key traveled to Las Vegas for the ceremony. It is in recognition of the outreach the calendar has, the educational value and of course the moneymaking aspect for the group, Sakai explained. “Our primary goals are education and outreach,” she emphasized. Kevin Marini, master gardener and composter program representative with the University of California Cooperative Extension, gives the final OK before the calendar goes to press. “I think every year these volunteers have an amazing ability to make the calendar better than ever,” Marini said. “They look in the community and see what the needs are and address those needs through the calendar. They did a great job of picking the theme this year — dollars and sense — it is just so timely. A lot of people are looking for inexpensive ways to garden and this calendar gives them some good tips.” Sakai also is very pleased with the final product. “We are very proud of this calendar and think it’s our best yet!” she said in a press release. The calendar is available for purchase through the Master Gardener offices in Placer and Nevada counties and at local nurseries. The Master Gardeners also will have a booth at the Auburn Fall Home Show Oct. 2-4 and at the Mountain Mandarin Festival Nov. 21 and 22. Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com --------- Master Gardeners’ 2010 calendar Cost: $10 each or five for $40 through the MG office, 11477 E Ave., DeWitt Center, Auburn; phone (530) 889-7385 Available at the following area nurseries (prices vary): Echo Valley Ranch, 295 Nevada St., Auburn Eisley Nursery, 380 Nevada St., Auburn Wild Bird Station, 1153 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn Yamasaki Nursery, 3700 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn High Hand Nursery, 3750 Taylor Road, Loomis Foothill Feed and Gift, 3293 Taylor Road, Loomis Freeman’s, 3180 Taylor Road, Loomis Flower Farm Nursery, 9280 Horseshoe Bar Road, Loomis Bakers Nursery, 3363 Taylor Road, Loomis Newcastle Produce, 9230 Cypress, Newcastle Fowler Nurseries, 525 Fowler Road, Newcastle For a complete list of vendors, see ceplacer.ucdavis.edu/Master_Gardener803/