How to Shop a Plant Sale

By Jennifer E. Beaver

Gardeners, position your wheelbarrows. The spring plant sale season is about to begin.
Make a list, get there early, wear your fast shoes and tote a bottle of water. And don’t be shy about politely elbowing your way toward the object of your desire. Think I’m kidding? Show up on opening day (March 31) of the Long Beach City College (LBCC) Plant Sale and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s your checklist:

Make your (garden) bed
Use up winter vegetables. Dig in at least 2 inches of fresh compost.

Clean your containers
Scrub them inside and out with a 1-to-9 solution of bleach and water. This gets rid of viruses and other diseases.

Plan your garden
Sketch it on the back of a napkin or use a more formal approach, but doodle some kind of diagram. Why? Your garden will look better and you’ll get more flowers and vegetables.

Make a list
Lusting after an heirloom tomato? Write down the name. I guarantee you won’t remember it in the midst of all the dazzling possibilities at the sale.

Avoid common plants
Marigolds, for example, are wonderful, but you can buy them anywhere. Look for something more unusual.

Be spontaneous
Sometimes you see something and fall in love. That happened last year when I was smitten by a cobalt-blue flower in a small pot. By the time I got it in the ground several weeks later (remember, dear readers, to do as I say and not as I do), I had forgotten what kind of plant it was and what care it needed. Since it’s now 4 feet tall and wide with 3-inch pods, I assume it’s happy.

Ask questions
See above, and write down the answers.

Support your local bees and butterflies
These pollinators help your garden. Help them by planting nectar-rich plants like lavender and sage.

Take my book with you
My latest book, Edible Gardening for California, is now available on Amazon. It’s just the right size (5”x8”) to throw in your cloth bag and tote along. It’s the perfect companion for choosing and planting fruits, vegetables, herbs and trees. And the pictures are pretty great, too.

The LBCC Plant Sale runs March 31–April 3 from 9am to 6pm at 1305 E. Pacific Coast Highway. Got a plant sale you’d like mentioned? Email me at jennifer.e.beaver@gmail.com.

Jennifer E. Beaver, a Wrigley resident, is a master gardener and author of Container Gardening for California.

Garden Variety

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