Garden Basics with Farmer Fred

Garden Basics with Farmer Fred

Tips for beginning and experienced gardeners. New episodes arrive every Friday. Fred Hoffman has been a U.C. Certified Master Gardener since 1982 and writes a weekly garden column for the Lodi News-Sentinel in Lodi, CA. A four-decade fixture in Sacramento radio, he hosted three radio shows for Northern California gardeners and farmers: The KFBK Garden Show, Get Growing with Farmer Fred, and the KSTE Farm Hour. Episode Website:


July 19, 2024 33 mins
Gardening and being in nature can help reduce stress and anxiety. Forest bathing, or simply spending time in a natural environment, has been shown to have calming effects. Having a garden or indoor plants can also provide stress relief. Aromatic plants, such as jasmine, lavender, and mint, can have a soothing effect on the mind and body. Taking the time to slow down, enjoy the sights, sounds, and aromas of nature can help alle...
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Previous episodes, show notes, links, product information, and transcripts at the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred, Audio, transcripts, and episode chapters also available at Buzzsprout.

Pictured: Garden Gold Peach in Bloom

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It’s a holiday weekend and you might be traveling. What about a Garden Basics playlist for that long car ride or for listening to while lounging around someplace cool? We have suggestions for that playlist - the five most listened-to Garden Basics episodes. 

Also: wherever you live, you can probably grow some kind of berries.  Today, we revisit our chat with Master Gardener and expert raspberry and boysenberry grower, Pam Bone, who ...

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How do use and adjust a soil thermometer? Why is my soil pH so variable at different soil depths? How do you use cardboard to replace a lawn and start a garden?

Those are some of the questions, along with scenic bypasses - of course - that we’ll be tackling today. And there’s a lot of great garden tips in those scenic bypasses today.

It’s all in Episode 346 of today’s Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast! Brought to you today by Sm...

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June 21, 2024 40 mins

Did you know rose petals are edible, and contain lots of healthy fiber?  That's part of today’s podcast, recorded live,  in February 2024, at the Sacramento Rose Society's monthly meeting.
The main topic is  growing the Heart Healthy Garden! And roses can be an edible part of that healthy landscape. 

This podcast episode features  foods to grow that can help lower your cholesterol and blood sugar numbers, as well as he...

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In this episode of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, Fred Hoffman and Master Gardener Gail Pothour discuss saving tomato seeds.  They address the question of whether saved tomato seeds will produce the same tomato variety and provide tips for ensuring seed purity. The conversation covers topics such as flower structure, pollination, isolation techniques, and seed fermentation.

Answering another question, Debbie Flower and ...

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June 14, 2024 53 mins

We pay a visit to the garden of America’s Favorite Retired College Horticulture Professor, Debbie Flower. It’s a living classroom on thriving  low water use plants.

Debbie talks in detail about the plants, many of which are California natives, and discusses the strategies of hydrozoning (grouping plants together based on their watering needs), designing focal points and the ongoing tasks of restraining plants (lots of prun...

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Master Gardener Fred Hoffman and his guests answers garden questions from listeners on the Tuesday edition of the Garden Basics podcast. The first question is about weed cloth and its impact on soil improvement and fertilization. Fred and Debbie Flower advise removing the weed cloth and using just mulch instead.
The second question is about planting carrots in California's climate. Fred explains that carrots can be grown ...

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June 7, 2024 47 mins

Something a little different today.  America’s Favorite Retired College Horticulture Professor, Debbie Flower and myself take a stroll through the Farmer Fred backyard garden, talking about the plants, and discussing the strategies to make them successful plants, with, of course, all sorts of garden tips thrown in. It’s the ultimate scenic bypass episode yet!

It’s all in Episode 341 of today’s Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast:...

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Farmer Fred and Debbie Flower discuss:
•The impact of climate and weather on gardening success.

•Understanding cross-pollination and its implications for seed saving and plant breeding.

•The importance of local conditions and location-specific knowledge in gardening.

•Different perspectives on the best US cities for gardening, highlighting the influence of location on gardening success.

Pictured: Bees on Flowering On...

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In this episode of Garden Basics with Farmer Fred, the focus is on how to water clay soil and other tips for gardening in clay.  Debbie Flower,  America's Favorite retired college horticultural professor,  shares valuable insights on the topic. The episode covers the characteristics of clay soil, the importance of organic matter, watering techniques, mulching, and the use of cover crops. The conversation also delves into the i...

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In this episode of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, Fred and his expert guests answer questions about: 
• Squash pollination woes with Master Gardener and vegetable expert Gail Pothour.
•  The timing and application of  plant fertilizer, with America's Favorite Retired College Horticulture Professor, Debbie Flower. 
• Choosing tart/sour cherry trees for cooking purposes, with Phil Pursel of Dave Wilson N...

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If you’re the type of gardener that buys flowering plants at a nursery that are covered in blooms, America’s Favorite Retired College Horticulture Professor, Debbie Flower, will explain why you shouldn’t do that, and a lot more nursery plant shopping tips!
Also, we have tips for starting an elementary school garden. And you don’t have to be a school teacher to do it. We talk with a couple of very enthusiastic California Master ...

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In this episode, Farmer Fred answers a listener's question about burying kitchen scraps in the garden. He discusses the potential problems with this method, including attracting scavengers and affecting the quality of the soil microbiology. He suggests composting the kitchen scraps first or using alternative methods like African keyhole gardens. Debbie Flower recommends  the Green Cone composter. In the second part of the epis...

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The first chat today involves roof rats (and is an encore presentation while construction is ongoing here at Barking Dog). It will be particularly useful for those of you with large yards, or acreage, or even a small farm, in which you have a large orchard. And for those of you suburban dwellers who might have a few citrus trees, or, for that matter, any tree with fruit, well, you know the damage that rats can do to that fruit. But...

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The first question on the Tuesday Q&A edition of the Garden Basics podcast is about growing rhubarb in hot weather. Fred and his guests, Master Gardeners Kathy Morrison and Ruth Ostroff, discuss their experiences with growing rhubarb in Sacramento. They also share a rhubarb recipe.
The second question is about grow lights for starting tomato and pepper seeds indoors. Fred  and Debbie Flower explain the importance of using ...

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We are in the midst of spring construction here, so we are taking the opportunity to not shout over the whine of power saws and the banging hammers. Instead, we will be revisiting some of the most popular segments ever aired on our podcast.

In Episode 83, we explained why feeding your soil yields better results than feeding your plants. Sound confusing?  We get the lowdown from Gisele Schoniger of Kellogg Garden Products....

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Farmer Fred and Don Shor from Redwood Barn Nursery answer a garden question from a  listener about whiteflies on grapes. But are they really whiteflies? They discuss how to control whiteflies and leaf hoppers on grapevines, the use of organic sprays, and the importance of correct pest identification.
Also, Debbie Flower answers a question about removing the first tomato that appears on your plants. Does it help, Yes or No? 

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Mid to late spring is cucumber planting time in most of North America, and we have more cucumber growing tips for you today. We covered a lot of cucumber growing basics back in episode 266 last May, but today, cucumber cheerleader and America's favorite retired college horticultural professor, Debbie Flower, has more cucumber planting advice for you, whether you start cucumbers from seed or from nursery-purchased transplants.


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In Episode 330, Q&A - Gail from Orangevale, CA wants to start a vegetable and flower garden in her backyard, which is currently covered in Bermuda grass. Debbie Flower,  America’s Favorite Retired College Horticulture professor, and I suggest waiting a year and using soil solarization to kill off the Bermudagrass. We also recommend starting small with container gardening and using organic mulch to keep the soil soft. We discuss...

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