Before buying antique furniture, pick up a few tips on how to find and restore antiques this month at "How to Buy Antiques" and "Basics of Refinishing Furniture," two seminars at the historic Carlyle House, 121 N. Fairfax St., Old Town Alexandria. On Saturday, the first seminar will address how to identify authenticity in furniture that appears to be antique. On March 19, the second seminar will cover techniques for refinishing furniture and the advantages and drawbacks of various stains. Both seminars will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and will be led by an antiques conservator and collector. Register for each session by calling 549-2997. Each costs $6 and includes refreshments and a tour of the house.

You don't have to live on a farm to grow a sizable vegetable or flower garden in Fairfax County. Rent one of 1,000 garden plots available at a dozen Fairfax County parks from April to November. Registration for the plots begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Green Spring Horticulture Center, 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria. Each plot measures 20 by 30 feet and costs $25 for the season. Call 642-5173.

This spring, entice birds to nest in your back yard. Build a birdhouse and learn how to attract nesting birds at one of two workshops on Sunday at Huntley Meadows Park, Telegraph Road and South Kings Highway, Fairfax. From 1 to 2 p.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m., a county park naturalist will help participants put together birdhouses while offering insight on the behavior of nesting birds. Participants need only bring a hammer. Cost is $4 and reservations are required. Call 768-2525.

Each Sunday in March, the Opera Theater of Northern Virginia will present "Opera Talks." All discussions are presented by prominent area opera artists and enthusiasts starting at 3 p.m. at Arlington Central Library, 1015 North Quincy St., Arlington. Sunday's topic will be Gilbert and Sullivan's "Ruddigore." The talks are free. For more information, call 284-8181.

Don't wait for summer to find a summer job. Find out about openings in Arlington County's summer camp programs at Summer Job Fair on Saturday at Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center, 3501 S. Second St. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., representatives of summer programs will offer applications and information on openings. Applicants must be at least 18. Call 558-2700.

Business Before Hours, an informal breakfast for representatives of small businesses, will be held Tuesday. Sponsored by the Prince William County-Greater Manassas Chamber of Commerce, the event will begin at 8 a.m. at The Picnic Basket, 9043 Liberia Ave., Manassas. Reservations are required by Monday. Call (703) 368-4813.

Support the newest branch of Fairfax County Public Library. Come to the charter meeting of the Friends of Pohick Regional Library and become a member next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Pohick Regional Library is at 6450 ydenstricker Rd., Burke. For information, call 644-7333.