The Going Native Garden Tour, now in its 16th year, features more than 50 gardens from Morgan Hill to San Mateo. These gardens will delight and inspire you to replace that thirsty lawn with gorgeous, low-water, low-maintenance native and Mediterranean options. Not only are they beautiful, they support our local birds, bees, bugs, and wildlife.The North Bay tour is on April 7 and the South Bay tour is on April 8. Both run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: To view gardens throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties, don't miss the 14th annual Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour on May 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Various gardens will feature live music, artwork, and native plants for sale and plenty of activities for the kids.
Spring Garden Market: The oldest and largest edible gardening event of the year, you won't want to miss the 24th annual Spring Garden Market, brought to you by the Santa Clara Master Gardeners. Over the last several months they have seeded, up-potted, watered, trailed and tested nearly 20,000 plants just for you.
With more than 70 varieties of tomatoes, it is almost impossible to pick just a few. There will be all sizes, colors and taste selections to choose from. If standard red is your tomato-du-jour, there will be dozens of options ranging from beefsteak to cherry. If you make your own sauce, don't miss out on the paste tomatoes that range in size from 1-5 inches long. But, if like me, you like to color outside the lines, try growing a few black, green, orange, yellow or even bi-colored varieties. Some tomatoes are extremely sweet, some have very low acid, and some have very few seeds. Just ask one of the experts that will be on hand to help you find what exactly what you are looking for.
With tomatoes, size really does matter. If you are gardening in containers or a small space, opt for determinate varieties that only grow 2-4 feet high. Indeterminates usually grow from about 5-8 feet tall, and semi-indeterminates fall somewhere in between. Some fruit in as little as 50 days and others will take well over 100, so you can definitely extend your harvest by choosing wisely.
Like tomatoes, peppers come in all colors, sizes, and tastes and there will be plenty to chose from. Some are so sweet you can eat them right off the vine, others will make you feel like a fire-breathing dragon! There are lots of reds, but try a few orange, yellow, green, purple and blacks as well. Most peppers will do fine in a pot, and some are very ornamental, so would be a great addition to your sunny deck or patio. Others can get several feet tall and need staking or a trellis for support.
For all of you chefs out there, don't miss the fabulous herbs that will be offered. There will be many varieties of basil, chives, dill, fennel, lemongrass, oregano, parley, tarragon, and thyme.
Here are more fantastic Master Gardener events happening soon throughout the Bay Area:
- Martial Cottle Park, April 14, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5283 Snell Ave., San Jose
- Guglielmo Winery, April 21, 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., 1480 East Main Ave., Morgan Hill
- San Mateo Event Center, April 21, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., 1346 Saratoga Dr., San Mateo
- Our Garden, April 7, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., 2405 Shadelands Dr., Walnut Creek
- Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, April 14, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., 1201 W. 10th St., Antioch
- Richmond Public Library, April 28, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond
Happy gardening and see you at the market.
by UC Master Gardener Rebecca Jepsen
Photos by Pam Roper
This article first appeared in the March 25 print issue of the San Jose Mercury News.