Plant sale kicks off fall gardening season

Annual event benefits the UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden apprenticeship program

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The popular plant sale is all organic and is held in the Barn Theater parking lot at the base of the UC Santa Cruz campus.

Shorter days don’t mean the end of the Central Coast’s gardening season. Planting veggies, annual flowers and perennials now will bring a bonus of fresh vegetables into fall and winter, and a bounty of blossoms next spring.

To keep gardening going into the fall, the UCSC Farm & Garden’s Fall Plant Sale will offer a rich and timely selection of organically raised vegetable seedlings, perennials, and California natives. Sponsored by the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, the sale takes place Friday and Saturday, September 10 and 11. The sale will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, in the Barn Theater parking lot at the intersection of Bay and High streets in Santa Cruz.

This year’s vegetable offerings include spinach, kale, lettuce and salad mixes, Asian greens, chard, collards, fennel, and leeks, along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Napa cabbage. There will also be a good selection of fall- and winter-flowering annuals, including sweet peas, bachelor’s button, statice, calendula and stock.

The Farm & Garden’s Fall Plant Sale is one of the largest all-organic events of its kind in the Monterey Bay Area. All flower and vegetable starts were propagated using organic methods. No chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides were used in growing the plants from seed and cuttings.

In addition to winter vegetables annual flowers and culinary herbs, the sale will feature perennial flowers and shrubs. Featured will be a strong showing of more than a dozen rose varieties, from hardy climbers such "Will Scarlet" to classic favorites such as "Mme. Alfred Carriere," "Constance Spry." Also available will be "Charles Austin" and "Jane Austin" -- both heavy bloomers that flower over a long season.

Autumn is also a great time to plant California native species. Available this year will be a number of native species, including manzanita, clematis, toyon, coast silktassel, coast live oak, and several Ribes varieties. Other Mediterranean-climate favorites that offer great fall and winter color will be available, including Salvia chamaedryoides, a low-growing plant that features sapphire-blue flowers; Ceratostigma griffithii, a low-growing perennial with deep blue flowers that blooms summer into fall; and Cestrum elegans, an upright shrub with narrow, tubular burgundy flowers.

The sale will benefit 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. For more information about the Fall Plant Sale or the Friends of the Farm & Garden, call (831) 459-3240, send email to casfs@ucsc.edu, or see http://casfs.ucsc.edu. The sale takes place rain or shine.