Tune In To Radio Show For Great Garden Tips


"Farmer Fred" hosts two radio programs on Sunday mornings, offering advice on growing healthy gardens that resist pests and reduce chemical use.

Finding garden advice is easy, but scientific research has raised awareness of our impact on the environment, challenging many traditional practices. Accessing and interpreting this information can be difficult; one place to go is the airwaves, where you can listen to California native and long-time gardener Fred Hoffman, known to many as radio personality “Farmer Fred”.

Fred uses a blend of humor and hands-on experience to share his message of earth-friendly gardening practices. His journey began 37 years ago with a dangerous chemical, which is both ironic and more common than you might think. Fred’s dog at the time had fleas, so he covered the backyard with Diazinon, a highly toxic insecticide for household and garden pests (it was made illegal for residential use in 2004). It worked a little too well; the usual buzzing drone of backyard life was soon replaced by an eerie silence, telling of the insect community’s wholesale destruction. This was Fred’s “aha” moment, which so many organic gardeners have after such an experience, when one decides there must be a better way.

You may not like those creepy-crawlies, but annihilating insect communities only causes more problems in the long term. Fred’s determination to find a better way led him to the newly minted University of  California Master Gardener program, where trained volunteers bring research-based knowledge to home gardeners. Fred became a certified Master Gardener in 1981, and has since logged over 8,000 volunteer hours, harnessing his training and a lifetime of personal experience to educate the community about better ways to manage pests.

Fred’s gardening know-how and quirky personality appear on “The KFBK Garden Show”, and “Get Growing With Farmer Fred”, both airing out of Sacramento on Sunday mornings. Fred loves to talk about tomatoes, but like any good talk show host, he covers a wide array of topics: vegetables, fruit trees, roses, ornamentals, succulents (e.g. cactus), irrigation, lawn care, etc. His message is always underscored by one of his favorite mottos: “surf with Mother Nature”. This means favoring plants appropriate for our climate, encouraging a balanced insect community, building healthy soil, and taking other actions to work with, rather than against nature.

Each week Fred invites a guest on to the show to share their expertise. Some are regulars, such as American River College horticulture instructor Debbie Flowers, and soil specialist and organic gardening advocate Steve Zien. Other guests include nursery owners with decades of experience, garden writers, Master Food Preservers (an off-shoot of the MG program), rosarians (rose experts), and people involved in “plant trials” conducted by the University of California, who share the latest in growing beautiful, water-wise plants.

Some of the gardening practices Fred talks about have been around for decades (or centuries), but there is always more to learn. Fred has an announcement segment where he shares information sent to him from various organizations offering classes, workshops, conferences, plant sales, home and garden shows, and other educational or just-for-fun events.

Another important service Fred’s show provides is announcing serious pest threats in the area, and what you can do to help slow the spread. Sometimes it’s as simple as eliminating standing water where mosquitoes might lay their eggs; other times, there are more serious steps such as contacting the Agriculture Commissioner if you spot Asian Citrus Psyllid on your citrus trees. Fred also covers quarantines, which is hardly everyone’s favorite topic, but are important in the protection of the area’s agricultural economy.

Fred has two great websites, one being a supplement to the “Get Growing” radio show (see below), the other a blog entitled “The Farmer Fred Rant®”. Both have great gardening tips for Central Valley residents wishing to improve the health of their garden and the environment. In spite of the blog’s name, there isn’t any real “ranting” going on, just a sprinkle of sass here and there to keep things interesting.

Fred’s two radio shows air back-to-back on Sundays: “The KFBK Garden Show” begins at 8:00am on 93.1FM KFBK, followed by “Get Growing With Farmer Fred”  from 10:00am-12:00pm on 650AM KSTE. For the farmers out there, he also hosts “The KSTE Farm Hour” at 12pm after “Get Growing”. Links to his blog and podcasts can be found at www.farmerfred.com.

If you have a gardening related question you can contact the UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can be found on our website.


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  • Blog Author

    Nadia Zane

    Nadia Zane is a UC Master Gardener, a landscape designer and Stockton native. She has a fondness for California native plants and sustainable landscaping, which she utilizes in her work for Native Beauty Garden Design. She is a member of the CA ... Read Full
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