Master gardener plant sale on tap Saturday

Proceeds to help several area charities

Gardening is where you meet friends and make new ones as, clockwise from left, Bernice Schroeder, Karen Basel, Linda Williamson and Julie Long, all members of the Central Missouri Master Gardeners, work at greenhouse in North Jefferson City to prepare for the annual plant sale this Saturday.

Gardening is where you meet friends and make new ones as, clockwise from left, Bernice Schroeder, Karen Basel, Linda Williamson and Julie Long, all members of the Central Missouri Master Gardeners, work at greenhouse in North Jefferson City to prepare for the annual plant sale this Saturday. Photo by Julie Smith.

When Mary Williams makes spaghetti, her sauce from homegrown tomatoes receives a pinch of fresh Italian herbs, plucked from just outside her kitchen.

As a Central Missouri Master Gardener, her contribution to the group’s sole fundraiser — the 15th Annual Plant Sale 7 a.m.-noon Saturday at the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairgrounds — will be preplanted herb pots.

Williams brought a few spaghetti herb pots — basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary with recipes — last year, which “went over really well,” she said.

In addition to an Italian theme, this year she has herb pots for fish, chicken and ribs, Italian cuisine, salad select and French cuisine.

“This is my favorite part,” Williams said as she pinched an herb leaf, rubbed it and put it to her nose.

The pots require little water and little maintenance, except being clipped frequently for use, she said.

“Most people cook with these, dried in a cabinet,” Williams said. “Fresh is so much better; it really makes a difference.”

For year-round enjoyment, herb growers may dry or freeze the leaves, she said.

Herbs have the added benefit of being drought-tolerant.

Following the 2012 drought, many gardeners have looked to add more perennials and drought-tolerant plants, said master gardener Julie Long.

Each of the 160 active members of the Central Missouri group are asked to bring a minimum of 15 perennial plants from their own yards.

That is advantageous to novice gardeners because these plants have been proven in local gardens, Long said.

For the master gardeners, it augments the thousands of annuals grown in the group’s greenhouse in North Jefferson City for both this sale and for its community service projects around town, said master gardener Jim Schwieterman.

And for individual growers, the plant sale is a great place to share the excess growth they regularly must dig up and split from their own gardens anyway.

Daylillies, iris, elephant ears, phlox and decorative grasses are popular examples.

The regular annuals will be out in force, including vincas, impatiens and marigolds.

About 150 hanging baskets and 45 planters already filled will be on-hand, too.

Some of the new annuals for this year include cuphea and trailing angelina.

More than 2,600 tomatoes from 35 varieties and 1,500 peppers have been growing rapidly this spring, too.

Also that morning, Dan Pawliczak will demonstrate how to make tomato buckets for patio gardens.

More than 1,200 customers came out to the plant sale last year.

Guests are encouraged to arrive early and bring wagons or other carrying devices. One gallon of liquid fertilizer will be available to customers who bring a plastic jug with a lid.

The event is the local master gardeners’ only fundraiser to support community service projects, including gardens at the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital City, Callaway Hills Elementary School, McKay Park, the North Jefferson City Demonstration Gardens, the Missouri River Regional Library and the Linn library, as well as providing three scholarships to horticulture or agriculture majors.

Accompanying photo: Master Gardeners in the greenhouse

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