Dan Vierria

Gardening Columnist

About This Author

As a senior writer for The Sacramento Bee, Dan Vierria covered media, food, restaurants, pop culture/trends and home & garden. Currently, he is a freelance writer, social media page administrator and certified University of California Master Gardener for Sacramento County.

Articles by this author

Fall Forward

Hot, sweaty and longing for the cooler embrace of fall, Sacramento gardeners have decisions and chores looming. Ready or not, transitioning from summer to fall gardening begins now. Drag yourself off the sofa and visit nurseries, hardware stores, fall plant sales and online sites, if needed, to prepare for the coming months. Need guidance? Happy to help!

Last call to fertilize citrus: Feed citrus trees for the final time in late summer. Any later and resulting tender new growth may be susceptible to frost damage. Container-grown citrus trees may accept an additional early fall application of fertilizer because more frequent watering flushes out fertilizer.

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An Orchid Affair

Orchids seduce, delight and frequently meet an untimely death. Muttering, “I killed another one,” often precedes the shopping trip to buy more exotic beauties.

When inviting orchids into the home, longevity will not be an option unless you are willing to perform basic plant maintenance. Already in bloom to attract buyers, the challenge is to keep an orchid alive and nurture it into multiple bloom cycles over several years.

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Water Wise

Scant rainfall and drought, measured in degrees like “severe” and “extreme,” have slithered back into our lives. Folsom Lake is a mud puddle, the Sierra Nevada snowpack was 59 percent of normal and rainfall is more than a foot below average.

Sacramento did not receive an April downpour. Zero precipitation was recorded for the entire month Downtown, a record, and the driest April since 1877, when data was first collected. Not even a trace of moisture settled on lawns and flowerbeds.

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Picking Winners

After scouring nursery shelves for plants and seeds, and spending a few months anticipating the perfect sweet pepper or magnificent melon, guessing when it is ripe can backfire. Harvesting homegrown edibles too soon or late means biting into something inedible.

Sacramento’s summer flavor jackpot begins with timely harvesting and is extended with proper storage. There are clues to help avoid a disappointing mouthful.

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Cutting Edge

Simple bouquets and elaborate floral arrangements are a snip away with a cutting garden, a designated area specifically planted with striking flowers and foliage. The payoff is a color blast for the dining table, kitchen island, even the home office.

Monet, van Gogh and Renoir put brush to canvas and created still-life paintings of flowers in a vase—a universal symbol of love, happiness and good vibes. A Harvard study found flowers in the home instill a sense of happiness and compassion toward others. The gift of a single flower lifts the darkest mood.

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