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The 2020 Pandemic Gardening Craze - To Be Continued!
     by Emily Taylor, UCCE Master Gardener of Amador County

In early March, when the world shut down and quarantining became a worldwide reality, there were two hobbies that brought people together through Zoom, on-line chats, Facebook and Instagram, sourdough bread baking and gardening!

With the latter, people got digging, planting and designing gardens at a rate that hasn’t been seen since the Victory Gardens of years past. Gardens gave people and communities a sense of optimism and good things to come, a place to book mark our anxiety and malaise about a world gone array. March spurred a run on seeds, compost and veggies starts. People were literally getting back to their roots and digging deep!

As spring has moved into summer, gardeners are reaping the rewards of their hard work. July and August are a time of great production and abundance. Can we talk about Zucchini for instance!? I planted several varieties this year and have hundreds of zucchini and summer squash each week; just managing the production has been a full time job. However, as one is knee deep in zucchini, tomatoes, basil, corn, melon and squash, don’t forget to start designing and planting for the next season….fall.

Planning ones fall garden should start in July and August.  In the foothills of California, we are blessed with a year-round growing season. Fall does not need to be dedicated to fading tomato plants and shriveled up zucchini but a gateway to Onions, Brassicas, Cole Crops, Root Crops, Legumes and Herbs. Thankfully, there are two ways to start a fall garden. Direct seeding can be started in the garden from July through October, but if you’re like me and a bit behind the eight ball, don’t despair! Nurseries, forward thinking friends and local plant sales can save the day.

Imagine all the winter greens you might want to consume, the wonderful different colored broccoli and cauliflower that might not be offered in the grocery stores and decide what you’d like to plant.  If you are planting in the same beds that produced your summer crops, start by amending your soil with good quality organic compost. I am of the belief that as little disturbance to the soil is better in the long run for the health of all the living creatures below the surface. I use a broad fork to lightly aerate the soil and a healthy dose of organic matter. It is best to plant your fall starts early enough in the fall so that they have time to root and establish themselves against the first frost and cold. Great resources are the UC Master Gardeners plant sales. Amador Master Gardner’s is hosting a fall plant sale October 3rd at the Community Gardens in Jackson and Calaveras sells veggie starts at the Murphy’s Farmers Market every Sunday, and If you miss both of these options, your local nursery should be well stocked for your supply.

The UC Master Gardeners are a great resource, so don’t be afraid to seek advice as you navigate your way through the seasons. Gardening is a lifelong hobby that can become a green thumb as well as your new grocery store! Keep it local and keep on growing.

For more information about our public education classes and activities, go to our UCCE Master Gardeners of Amador County website. UCCE Master Gardeners of Amador County are available to answer home gardening questions, see the Ask a Master Gardener webpage to send in your questions. You can also find us on Facebook @UCCEAmadorMG.