Debbie Arrington

Ready for 2018? Get expert gardening advice one day at a time

Sacramento County master gardeners focused on plant parts for their new 2018 gardening guide and calendar.
Sacramento County master gardeners focused on plant parts for their new 2018 gardening guide and calendar.

Gardeners like to look ahead, and master gardeners like to look out for other gardeners. Combine the two and you’ve got something worth looking at every day.

No wonder annual calendars and garden guides – created by local master gardeners – are so popular; these publications help us not-so-masterful gardeners plan while also learning from these certified experts. The hard part (for the master gardeners) is coming up with a new theme each year.

For “2018: Plant Parts,” the UC Cooperative Extension master gardeners of Sacramento County decided to pick plants apart and use that insight to inspire home gardeners, month by month. The guide’s authors put together detailed accounts of roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds, including the role each plays in the garden.

How do roots work? What do leaves need? When do seeds form? Those are all valuable infobits that can help make gardening more successful and productive for novices as well as experienced old-timers.

What makes this calendar/garden guide so special? Besides being rolled into one useful publication, it’s written specifically for a Sacramento Valley audience by people who have gardened here for decades.

These master gardeners know the subtle differences between growing tomatoes close to the river vs. high in the hills. They understand the challenges of our weather – 76 degrees one week, 106 the next – and heavy clay soil. They pool their experience and offer concise checklists to keep our gardens growing strong.

In addition to noting what to plant when, this home-grown publication offers how-to advice on several gardening specifics such as composting, mulch and water management.

And (just in time for holiday gifting) the 2018 calendars are available now. The master gardeners offer their calendars at several local nurseries as well as special events. (For a list, visit They also may be ordered online from that same website for $10 plus postage or purchased at the Cooperative Extension office, 4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento.

For foothill gardeners, consider the 2018 calendar and gardening guide, “Unlocking the Secrets of Successful Gardening,” created by the UCCE master gardeners of Placer County. Also $10, this 13-month calendar is available now at nurseries in Placer, Nevada and El Dorado counties, as well as the UCCE office at the DeWitt Center, 11477 E Ave., Building 306, Auburn. Or click on

Then, you can look forward to a better gardening year ahead.