UCSC Farm & Garden’s 35th annual Spring Plant Sale set for May 2, 3

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The 35th annual UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden Spring Plant sale at the base of the UCSC campus May 2 and 3 will feature organically grown herb, vegetable, and flower starts along with perennials.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden’s Spring Plant Sale, offering the region’s largest collection of organically grown herb and flower starts, vegetables, and beautiful perennials. With the drought in mind, this year’s sale features many “water-wise” varieties of food and landscape plants, along with information on water-conserving crops and gardening practices, a free seed exchange hosted by UCSC’s Demeter Seed Library, and a chance to learn about more about environmental and social issues related to the food system.

The Spring Plant Sale takes place Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 3, 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 can 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, basil, cucumbers, and many other vegetables. Many of these crops do better with a good “wet/dry” swing that minimizes water use and some can be dry-farmed once established.

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, snapdragons, stock, zinnias, and six varieties of sunflowers. Also available are particularly water-thrifty options, including amaranth, poppies, marigolds, white mignonette, statice, and cosmos.

Tomato fans will find plenty to choose from, with more than 30 heirloom, slicer, cherry, and paste varieties available at this year’s sale, including ‘Persimmon’, ‘Rainbow’s End’, ‘Red Brandywine, ‘Juan Flamme’, ‘Sungold’, ‘Sweet 100’, ‘Isis Candy’, ‘Green Doctor’, ‘Chocolate Cherry’, ‘Yellow Pear’, ‘San Marzano’, ‘Principe Borghese’, ‘Early Girl,’ ‘Valley Girl’, ‘Pruden's Purple’, ‘Oregon Spring’, ‘Jubilee, ‘Mandarin Cross, ‘Cherokee Purple’, and ‘Risentraube’. A number of varieties were selected for their strong performance in cool, coastal settings, while others will thrive in hotter microclimates.

Plenty of perennials will also be available, including salvias, yarrows, and ornamental grasses, Peruvian lilies, lavenders, rosemary and marjoram varieties, fig trees, and blackberry and raspberry starts. Also featured will be a variety of drought-tolerant choices, including coral bell (Heuchera) cultivars, yarrows in a range of colors, Russian sage, Cuphea micropetala, Burmese plumbago, ornamental grasses, and many other favorites. Many of the perennials will be priced at a special rate of 3 for $20 in gallon containers.

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. With “Regenerating Justice and Our Food System” as this year’s plant sale theme, there will also be opportunities to learn more about the food system and its impacts on a variety of social and environmental issues.

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 online lists of plants available at this year’s sale at: http://casfs.ucsc.edu/news-events/events/Annuals-2015.pdf and http://casfs.ucsc.edu/news-events/events/Perennials-2015.pdf.