Plant sale season
Published: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 3:10 p.m.
They begin lining up early Saturday morning in front of the Christ Church United Methodist in Santa Rosa. The line snakes out from the parking lot along Yulupa Avenue, because serious gardeners know that the early bird catches the best heirloom varieties.
UPCOMING SPRING PLANT SALES
Spring is high season for plant sales. This is the time when nonprofit organizations, garden clubs, schools, horticultural societies and farms sell everything from vegetable and herb starts to perennials and trees.
Occidental Arts & Ecology Center Spring Plant Sale: A big variety of heirloom food crops, culinary and medicinal herbs, including many unusual Asian and South American edibles. Everything is grown organically at the center. Food trucks will be on hand for noshing. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and SundayApril 13 and 14, April 20 and 21, May 4 and 5 and May 11 and 12. The OAEC nursery will be open to sales of perennial plants only on May 25 and June 30. 15290 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental. 874-1557 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jail Industries: The Sonoma County Jail's Plant Nursery and Teaching Garden holds its spring sale 9 a.m. to noon today and SundayApril 13 and 14. Fruit and ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and vegetable starts, along with many of the Sonoma County Master Gardeners' Top 30 plants. Master Gardeners will be on site to answer questions and help with selection. All plants are grown by inmates in the program using compost, and no fertilizers or pesticides. Sales support the inmate nursery and garden program, which provides project-based learning. Bring a cart or wagon to carry your own plants. For more information and a plant list, visit scoe.org/jailindustries. The nursery and garden, including a demonstration garden, is at 2254 Ordinance Road, Santa Rosa. 525-8310.
Men's Garden Club of Santa Rosa: Over 50 varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes, plus a large selection of geraniums cultivated by club members. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 12 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. todayApril 13 at Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa.
Quarryhill Botanical Garden: Free Earth Day event, includes many activities as well as a rare Asian plant sale. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 20. 12841 Sonoma Highway 12, Glen Ellen. quarryhillbg.org or 996-3166.
Windsor Garden Club: Container gardens, succulent gardens, veggie starts and more. Proceeds assist with scholarships and public beautification projects. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 21 at the Town of Windsor Earth Day Event on the Green. 235-9773 or Windsorgardenclub.org.
Graton Flower Show: The theme for this year's show is “From the Redwoods to the Sea,” with floral and plant displays based on the theme. The accompanying flower show features habitat plants for birds, bees, and butterflies, salvias, penstemons, lavenders, sedums, thymes, grasses, succulents, rock roses, Japanese maples and other trees. Also stock up on veggie starts, including many heirloom tomatoes. All the plants are grown by club members. The show will also feature small succulent gardens and mixed plantings in decorative pots, as well as garden art, planters, plant holders, decorative iron work, sculptures, wall decor, and more. Dessert and beverages available for sale and lunch for $10. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26 and 27. Graton Community Club, 8996 Graton Road, Graton. 829-5314 or graton.org.
Santa Rosa Garden Club: Plants propagated by members are offered for sale, with a big selection of succulents, as well as native plants, drought-tolerant plants, annuals, perennials and shrubs. Also featuring dish gardens, bird and butterfly plants, cacti, fruits and vegetables. The sale raises funds for horticulture scholarships at Santa Rosa Junior College and other community projects. Members also bring garden related items for an indoor garage sale. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27. Held across the street from the Harvest for the Hungry garden's plant sale so shoppers can hit both in the same day. Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa. 537-6885 or email@example.com.
Harvest for the Hungry Plant Sale: Organic vegetable starts, habitat plants and locally grown flowering plants, including more than 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, 50 varieties of hot and sweet peppers and many unusual varieties of eggplant, squash and cucumbers, as well as annual and perennial flowering plants suited for Sonoma County gardens. The sale also includes vendor selling herbs, bee products and gardening supplies. Raises funds for the garden, which provides fresh food for the needy. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27. 1717 Yulupa Avenue. Harvestgarden.org.
Willowside School Spring Plant Sale: Thousands of plants have been potted up for this ongoing sale that supports the school's horticulture program. Perennials roses, grasses, small Japanese and Trident maples, deodar cedar trees, redwoods and small cypress as well as a multitude of succulents and Bonsai crab apple and elm trees. Japanese Maples and Red/Yellow Magnolias, 3 to 6 feet tall for $25 to $35. Prices on other plants start at $3 for one gallon pots. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27, May 18, June 8 and June 29. 5299 Hall Road at Willowside Road, Santa Rosa. 569-4724.
Green Thumb Garden Club: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27 at the corner of First Street and Cloverdale Boulevard in Cloverdale.
Healdsburg Garden Club: The plant sale will feature organic heirloom tomatoes, peppers and eggplant starts as well as a crafts sale. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 4 at the Foss Creek Community Center, 1557 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Petaluma Bounty Heirloom Plant Sale: Thousands of heirloom tomato, vegetable and other starts, grown organically from seed at the Bounty Community Farm. Prices start at $2. The day includes gardening workshops, farm tours and tips from Master Gardeners. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 4. 55 Shasta Ave., Petaluma. Petalumabounty.org or email@example.com.
Santa Rosa Iris Society Spring Show and Potted Iris Sale: Featuring a multitude of colorful iris ranging in size from the very petite to the very tall. Information and demonstration to aid in growing your own irises. The show will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. May 4 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 5. The potted iris sale will be open both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa. For information, call 433-8633.
Santa Rosa Junior College: Large plant sale put on by the Environmental Horticulture Program during the school's Day Under the Oaks. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 5 in the Lark Hall greenhouse area. 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa.
The Redwood Empire Rose Society Rose Show and Plant Sale: Show roses and roses for sale. A master consulting rosarian will be on site to answer rose growing question. 1 to 4:30 p.m. May 11 at the Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa.
American Rhododendron Society Fort Bragg Rhododendron Show and Plant Sale: In addition to hundreds of beautiful rhodies on show to admire, there will be many plants for sale and experts on hand to answer questions. Educational displays along with hot food and baked goods. Free. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 11 and 12. At the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 18220 N. Highway 1, Fort Bragg. Noyochapterars.com or 964-4435.
— MEG McCONAHEY
When the gates open at 9 a.m. on the last Saturday in April, it's a mad dash to shop for the best plants before they're gone at the annual Harvest for the Hungry Plant Sale.
It's one of the hottest attractions of the season for gardeners who love to eat what they grow. But the sale of organic plant “starts” at one of the county's longest running community gardens also features perennials, many of them habitat plants that support the critters that make all that good food grow.
Gardeners know the Harvest for the Hungry garden because of the one day a year sale of starts for eggplants, peppers, squash, greens, cucumbers, native plants and culinary and medicinal herbs, to name just a few. The number and variety of tomato plants alone is mind-numbing — some 100 varieties from heirlooms and earlies to popular hybrids, cherries and cooking tomatoes.
Volunteers have started for the sale some of the hot new-to-the-market tomato varieties like the green, pear-shaped “Michael Pollan,” named for the renowned Berkeley food journalist.
The sale is also a handy stop because it coincides with the Santa Rosa Garden Club's spring plant sale right across the street at the Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center.
But the garden is not just a shopping opportunity for backyard gardeners. For many area food banks and nonprofit groups, the ¾-acre urban garden is a key source for high-quality fresh produce. Last year, the garden produced 22,000 pounds of food for organizations like The Living Room drop-in center for homeless single mothers, Food for Thought AIDS Food Bank, FISH of Santa Rosa, the Bethlehem Towers low-income housing for seniors and Elisha's Pantry, an interfaith neighborhood food bank headquartered at the edge of the church parking lot on Yulupa Avenue.
Proceeds from the plant sale pay for garden expenses, like the $2,000 a year spent on water.
It's an all-volunteer army of gardeners who keep the little food farm in production all year round. An average of 30 people work the ground in any given week, with activity now focused on cultivating the thousands of veggie and herb starts and flowering ornamental plants that will be spread out on tables for sale on April 27. The sale runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with any leftovers sold at church the following day or donated to school and community gardens.
The Harvest for the Hungry Garden was started in 1987, long before the locavore and modern victory garden movement gained steam. It was the brainchild of Marge Cerleti and Muchtar Salzmann, the owner of Emerisa Gardens in Santa Rosa. The garden last year introduced a special tomato in honor of Salzmann called Muchtar's Magic.
The garden is so prolific because of the intensive garden practices employed by the team, said Martin Cibulka, who overseas the vegetable operation.
“We use every space. Even around fruit trees we planted winter squash,” he said, and a few beds were even added along the fenceline. But more significantly, they have begun interplanting. Whenever new crops like cabbage are put in, they interplant with lettuces and other greens, which are fast growing and ready to be harvested by the time the companion crop is ready to really start producing.
The team also babies the soil. Every time a new crop is harvested, fresh compost and soil amendments like gypsum, for calcium, are added to the mix. They fertilize with fish emulsion.
It took years of patience to build up this rich and productive topsoil.
“For years and years, we'd get all these chunks and lumps of clay,” Cibulka said. “Now we're at the point where we have six to eight inches of really nice soil.”
Other gardening practices have changed with the times as well.
“We don't use rototillers or anything,” said Katie Torgerson, a volunteer since 1999. “It used to be you rototilled everything. Now you just slightly dig in your compost. We're also doing a habitat garden that brings in the beneficial insects.”
The proof is in the production. They've gone from 6,000 pounds of produce 10 years ago to 22,000 pounds last year. Contributing to the bounty is the addition of many fruit trees, from Asian Pears to Santa Rosa Plums.
You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 521-5204.
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