UCSC Farm & Garden’s annual spring plant sale set for weekend of May 3, 4

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This year's UCSC Farm & Garden spring plant sale will feature many “water-wise” varieties of food and landscape plants, along with information on water-conserving crops and practices. (Photos by CASFS)
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A wide variety of seedlings are cultivated in the greenhouse at the Farm in anticipation of the annual spring plant sale.

The UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden’s spring plant sale offers the region’s largest collection of organically grown herb and flower starts, vegetables, and beautiful perennials. This year’s sale features many “water-wise” varieties of food and landscape plants, along with information on water-conserving crops and practices, and a free seed exchange hosted by UCSC’s Demeter Seed Library.

The spring plant sale will take place Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4, in the Barn Theater parking lot at the base of the UCSC campus, near the intersection of Bay and High streets in Santa Cruz. The sale will be open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Saturday, members of the Friends of the Farm & Garden enjoy a “members’ hour” starting at 9 a.m. (new memberships and renewals are available starting at 8:30 a.m.).

This spring’s sale will feature a great selection of tomatoes and peppers (sweet and hot), along with eggplants, summer and winter squashes, pumpkins, lettuces, and many other vegetables. 

Flower lovers can choose from an array of annuals perfect for homegrown bouquets and landscape plantings. This year’s offerings include asters, bachelor’s buttons, hollyhocks, Mexican sunflowers, snapdragons, stock, and a large selection of sunflowers, many grown from seeds generously donated by Renee’s Garden Seeds. Also available are particularly water-thrifty options, including amaranth, poppies, marigolds, mignonette, and cosmos.

Tomato fans will find plenty to choose from, with 30 heirloom, slicer, cherry, and paste varieties available at this year’s sale, including ‘Summer Feast’, ‘Black from Tula’, ‘Black Krim’, ‘Rainbow’s End’, ‘Red Zebra’, ‘Juan Flamme’, ‘Sungold’, ‘Sweet 100’, ‘Isis Candy’, ‘Black Cherry’, ‘Chocolate Cherry’, ‘Yellow Pear’, ‘San Marzano’, ‘Valley Girl’, ‘Pruden's Purple’, ‘Oregon Spring’, ‘Indian Spring’, ‘Indigo Rose’, and ‘Cherokee Purple’.

Also among the vegetables this year will be lots of sweet peppers and plenty of hot peppers, along with a variety of lettuces, Italian and Asian eggplants, cucumbers, artichokes, chard, kale, leeks, and winter squashes.

Plenty of perennials will also be available, including salvias, butterfly bushes (Buddleias), yarrows, and ornamental grasses, Peruvian lilies, lavenders, rosemary and marjoram varieties, native Ribes, Baccharis, and coast silktassel, blackberry starts, and many other favorites.

UCSC’s Demeter Seed Library will host its quarterly free seed exchange at the Spring Plant Sale, on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. You’ll find free open-pollinated and heirloom seeds to grow out for your own garden and to share with the library. And you can learn more about drought-tolerant and sustainable crops at the plant sale’s “Crops for Thought” gallery. 

The spring plant sale benefits the UCSC Farm & Garden Apprenticeship, a six-month training course in organic farming and gardening. Members of the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden receive a 10 percent discount on purchases; memberships will be available at the sale beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday. Your plant purchases and Friends’ memberships will help grow the next generation of organic farmers and gardeners.

For more information about the spring plant sale or the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden, call (831) 459-3240, or send email to casfs@ucsc.edu. Find on-line lists of plants available at this year’s sale at: http://casfs.ucsc.edu/news-events/events/Annuals_2014.pdf and http://casfs.ucsc.edu/news-events/events/Perennials_2014.pdf.