Merced College shows its green thumb at plant sale

Horticulture program gets boost in funds from event

bbowers@mercedsunstar.comApril 7, 2012 

More than 2 acres of leafy greens -- 15,000 individual plants -- await local gardeners at the annual plant sale hosted by Merced College's horticulture department.

And this year, you don't necessarily have to have a green thumb to leave with confidence: There will be a number of experts, both professionals and college students, on hand to tell you everything you need to know about that plant you just purchased.

"It's putting the community back in community college," said instructor Brian Tassey.

A number of free outdoor seminars will be offered during the sale, scheduled from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21 at the Merced College Plant Science Nursery. There will be sessions on fruit tree pruning and discussions with University of California master gardeners. Also, a cookbook with recipes featuring many of the plants for sale, written by Merced College nutrition students, will be available for purchase.

Each year, the plant sale provides money for the horticulture program to buy materials, fund scholarships and pay travel costs for the college's landscape competition team. Last year, the sale provided $10,500.

Items for sale include a variety of fruit trees and vegetables, perennials and drought-tolerant plants, shade trees, ceramic pots and mixed containers. Prices are kept below typical retail values, Tassey said. Small vegetables will be available for $1.50 and small potted plants cost $4.

One word of advice? Get there early, Tassey says. Pickings will be slim in the afternoon.

"By around noon, it's pretty picked through," he said.

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