UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
University of California
UC Master Gardener Program

Latest Statewide Master Gardener News

Celebrating volunteers and 5 million hours donated to the program!

The UC Master Gardener Program is open to anyone interested in becoming a volunteer and sharing gardening knowledge with the public. (Photo credit: Evett Kilmartin © UC Regents)
Every day, UC Master Gardener volunteers make a difference in communities across California. These incredible volunteers give their time to mentor, teach, and inspire the people around them to adopt more sustainable gardening practices. These newly taught skills and information based on university research makes for healthier plants, environments and communities - the core values of the UC Master Gardener Program.

All of the success of the UC Master Gardener Program is due to the hard work and dedication of its volunteers, for this we would like to say a sincere THANK YOU for all you do!

Volunteers make a difference

Volunteer hours focus on services and outreach to the general public, sharing research-based information about water conservation, green waste reduction, pest management, and sustainable gardening practices. UC Master Gardeners are creating healthier communities and gardeners through their love for gardening and hours of volunteer service.

Last year 6,237 active UC Master Gardener volunteers donated 328,540 hours. (Photo credit:Evett Kilmartin © UC Regents)
Thousands of hours every week are spent planning and hosting workshops, teaching at demonstration gardens, working with school administrators and community garden leaders, answering gardening questions from phone calls, emails and online, and so much more. Whether in person, on the phone, in the media or online UC Master Gardeners are making a lasting impact.

Impacts by the numbers

Last year 6,237 volunteers gave their time and shared their talents, resources and gardening knowledge with communities across California. From July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 more than 328,540 hours were donated, a monetary value worth more than $9 million. It is hard to put a value to the service volunteers make for the program, but over the course of our 35 year history more than 5 million volunteer hours have been donated worth more than $137 million to California.

“This year we celebrate hitting the impressive 5 million volunteer hour's milestone,” says Missy Gable, statewide director. “We are so proud of the UC Master Gardener Program and its volunteers and the incredible work they do across the state. This hour milestone represents thousands of volunteers giving their valuable time, horticulture knowledge and sharing their passion about sustainable home gardening with their friends, neighbors and communities.” 

Telling our story by reporting

Volunteers extend research based information on home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices. (Photo credit: Evett Kilmartin © UC Regents)
The growth and support of our program into the future depends on telling our story through reported contacts, hours and impact numbers. As the UC Master Gardener Program works toward building financial security for all counties in the state we encourage volunteers to record all volunteer hours and contacts in the Volunteer Management System (VMS) to ensure efforts are accurately captured and reported. Program activity is compiled at the county and state offices and reported not only to the County Boards of Supervisors but to the University, state and federal governments. We are proud to share our collective accomplishments and aim to be a leader within volunteer communities.

We look forward to reaching our next hour milestone together, a sincere thank you to our incredible group of volunteers, for sharing their passion and valuable time with the UC Master Gardener Program!

Posted on Monday, December 5, 2016 at 3:10 PM

Spring-flowering bulbs chase away the winter

Spring-flowering bulbs are easy to grow and pack a punch of color to help usher out winter blues. Order your spring-flowering bulbs, now available for purchase in their dormant state through mail order and at local nurseries. Finding the perfect color, height, blooming time and scent can be very exciting, especially with the wide varieties of bulbs available. When purchasing look for heavy, dense bulbs with no decay, mold, or fungus; they should smell fresh, and be free of cuts and bruises.

Bulbs are very versatile and can be planted in flower beds, raised beds, lawns, around trees, lining walkways, in pots or window boxes. Bulbs generally have very few diseases and insects, but can be disturbed by pests such as gophers, ground squirrels and mice.

Purple and yellow hyacinths tend to have the strongest fragrance, plant them in pots and along walkways to enjoy their scent.

Bulbs are low maintenance and any gardener can successfully grow bulbs by following these simple steps: 

  • Use healthy bulbs (plump, firm, fresh smelling)
  • Choose a sunny spot with rich well-drained soil
  • Plant correctly
    • Planting depth (follow the directions)
    • Pointy end up (if you are unsure, plant it on its side)

Landscaping with spring bulbs can create interest in the landscape where there is none and bring pops of color and whimsy to porches and patios. Plant bulbs in formal lines, or free flowing groups, play with color choosing multiple colors or choose a striking monochromatic color palette. 

Naturalized spring-blooming crocus bulbs provide a wonderful welcome to spring and come in a variety of colors and blooming time.

Here are a few design ideas to keep in mind when deciding where to plant bulbs:  

  • Combine bulbs and perennials such as cranesbill geranium or daylilies for a show stopping flowerbed. Almost any perennial or annual combines well with bulbs and can keep your flowerbed looking perky after the bulb bloom is spent.
  • Hillsides, tree lines, meadows and areas that are left undisturbed are great for planting swaths or drifts of naturalizing bulbs. Large bold masses of spring blooming bulbs can be enjoyed year after year as the bulbs multiply and spread.
  • Get creative in a container by planting different varieties of bulbs in the same containers to create a colorful spring display.
  • Choose bulbs that require different planting depths and have different blooming times. Containers will become a living bouquet of color. This technique is referred to as layering or making “bulb lasagna” and is a fun experiment with different combinations of bulbs.

With California's Mediterranean climate bulbs can stay in the ground year round, but may require replacement or division every three to four years depending on overcrowding or poor bloom quality. After blooming scatter a light feeding of fertilizer (5-10-10) over the area and allow foliage to fade until it has yellowed and withered before removal.

Combine spring-blooming bulbs with companion plants such as pansies and daylilies to help hide the spent bulb foliage.

Regardless of how you incorporate bulbs into your landscape, bulbs add a pop of color, interest, depth and character. Happy planting!

Spring flowering bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers:

Allium   Freesia   Poppy Anemone
Bluebell   Hyacinth (Grape Hyacinth)   Snowdrop
Calla   Iris (Dutch, Bearded)   Spanish Bell
Crocus   Lily (Oriental, Asiatic)   Ranunculus
Cyclamen   Muscari   Tulip
Posted on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 7:54 AM

Tips for a successful fall vegetable garden

When planning a fall garden it is important to take into consideration the first frost dates in your area to protect your crop. (Photo: Melissa Womack)
For many gardeners' spring and summer months are synonymous with growing edible gardens, but home vegetable gardening doesn't have to end when cool fall temperatures arrive. This fall, take advantage of California's unique climate that makes it possible to grow a variety of crops throughout the year.

Warm vs. cool season crops

Most vegetables are classified as either a warm season or cool season crop. This designation is based on the temperature range that the plants thrive in. Warm season crops grow best when the days are long and the temperatures are high (between 65°-95°F). In contrast, cool season crops grow and produce the best quality produce when the average temperatures are between 55°-75°F and are typically tolerant of light frosts when mature.

Typical cool season crops include root vegetables such as: beets, carrots, parsnips, and radishes; stems such as asparagus and rhubarb; leafy crops like cabbage, celery, lettuce, spinach and crops that have edible immature flowers like artichokes, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Importance of frost dates

Scarecrows are a staple decoration in autumn but they also serve a purpose in the garden of scaring off unwanted birds and animals. Photo credit: Melissa Womack, UC Master Gardener Program
According to the UC Master Gardener Program's gardening resource the California Garden Web it is important to keep in mind the first and last frost dates in your area and protect plants if frost is expected, unless the crop is frost tolerant and established enough to handle the weather. 

“When deciding what to plant in your edible garden it is important to take into consideration the best months a crop will thrive,” says Missy Gable, statewide director for the UC Master Gardener Program. “Fall can be a very rewarding gardening season. There are a variety of delicious crops that can survive the cooler temps and have a short number of days to maturity.”

Guides for determining the first and last frost dates for a specific area or region are available using historical references from the National Weather Service. Visit the California Garden Web section “When should plant my garden? Frost dates” webpage for detailed information about when to safely plant frost-tender crops.

Cool season vegetable gardening at a glance: 

Learn more with the UC Master Gardener Program

Artichokes are a beautiful addition to the fall edible garden. For optimal flavor and tenderness artichokes should be harvested before leaves open. Pictured above is the striking purple bloom of an unharvested artichoke. Photo credit: Melissa Womack, UC Master Gardener Program
Interested in learning more about how to grow a thriving edible garden or home landscape? The UC Master Gardener Program has University trained volunteers who are eager to help. Volunteers are available to answer questions about preparing your soil, fertilizing, mulching and more. With local programs based in more than 50 counties across California there is sure to be a workshop or class near you. Visit our website to find your local UC Master Gardener Program, mg.ucanr.edu


Originally published on UC ANR's Food Blog (09/13/2016)



Vegetable Gardening Basics, http://ucanr.edu/sites/ucmgnapa/files/27047.pdf
California Gardening Web, cagardenweb.ucanr.edu/
California Master Gardener Handbook, Home Vegetable Gardening, page 338-339, anrcatalog.ucanr.edu
University of California Cooperative Extension Vegetable Research & Information Center, vric.ucdavis.edu


Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 1:23 PM

5 Common Tomato Problems and Solutions

One of the most versatile and rewarding plants in a summer edible garden is the tomato. According to a 2014 study by the National Gardening Association, 86 percent of homes with vegetable gardens grow tomatoes. It is understandable that the tomato plant is a popular home vegetable garden staple, tomatoes offer thousands of different varieties options and flavors. Plus, nothing beats the flavor of a ripe tomato straight from the garden.

When properly cared for, a single tomato plant can produce 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 6.8 kg) or more of fruit. If tomato yields aren't what was expected or the fruit is damaged it could be due to a number of abiotic disorders, diseases or pests. Abiotic disorders result from nonliving causes and are oftentimes environmental, for example: unfavorable soil conditions, too much or too little water, temperature extremes, physical or chemical injuries, and other issues that can harm or kill a plant. Below are five common abiotic disorders of tomatoes and recommended remedies from the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources publication, Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden

1. Sunburn

Photo credit: UC IPM, ipm.ucanr.edu

Problem: Fruit turns light brown and leathery on side exposed to sun.

Cause: Overexposure to sunlight.

• Maintain plant vigor to produce adequate leaf cover.
• Avoid overpruning.
• Provide partial shade during hours of most intense sunlight.

2. Leaf Roll

Photo credit: Dr. Russ Wallace, today.agrilife.org

Problem: Older leaves roll upward and inward suddenly, leaves become stiff to the touch, brittle, and leathery.

Causes: High light intensity and high soil moisture, particularly when plants are staked and heavily pruned

• Choose less-susceptible varieties.
• Maintain even soil moisture.
• Provide shade during hours of intense sunlight.  

3. Blossom End Rot

Photo credit: UC IPM, ipm.ucanr.edu

Problem: Water-soaked spot on blossom end of fruit enlarges and darkens, becomes sunken and leathery. Affects both green and ripe fruit, and is more common on sandier soils.

Causes: Calcium nutrition and water balance in the plant, aggravated by high soil salt content and fluctuating soil moisture.

• Maintain even soil moisture.
• Amend planting area with compost to improve water retention.
• Avoid heavy applications of high-nitrogen fertilizer.
• Soils deficient in calcium may be amended with gypsum. 

4. Fruit Cracks and Catfacing

Photo credit: Goldlocki / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

Problem: Circular concentric cracks around the stem end (concentric cracking), cracks radiating outward from the stem (radial cracking), malformation and cracking at the blossom end (catfacing). 

Causes: Very fast growth with high temperatures and high soil moisture levels. Wide fluctuation in soil moisture and or air temperature. Any disturbances to flower parts during blossoming.

• Keep soil evenly moist.
• Maintain good leaf cover or provide partial shade during hours of most intense sunlight.
• Mulch around the plant 3 to 7 inches deep to maintain soil moisture and temperature.

5. Solar Yellowing and Green Shoulders

Photo credit: UC IPM, ipm.ucanr.edu

Problem: Yellow or yellow-orange instead of normal red color, upper portions of the fruit remian green even though the lower portion appears red and ripe. 

Cause: High temperatures and high light intensity.

• Maintian plant vigor to produce adequate leaf cover.
• Avoid overpruning.
• Provide partial shade during hours of most intense sunlight.

Pests eating away at your tomatotes?
Other damages that are caused to tomato plants can be caused by a variety of pests. Some examples of common pests, include: hornworms, tomato fruitworms, tomato pinworms, stink bugs, white flies, and leafminers. For information about identifying and managing pests in your edible garden visit the UC Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) website, ipm.ucanr.edu.

Looking for free gardening advice?
Since 1981, the UC Master Gardener Program has been extending UC research based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscape, and pest management practices to the public. Through a vast network of more than 6,000 certified UC Master Gardener volunteers, the program is administered by local UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) county offices across California. Contact the UC Master Gardener Program in your county for more information about edible gardening or upcoming educational workshops, mg.ucanr.edu.

Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden Publication 8159, anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8159.pdf

Posted on Monday, July 11, 2016 at 11:30 AM

VMS Reappointment In-Progress

Volunteers don't necessarily have the time; they just have the heart! – Elizabeth Andrew

Volunteers make a huge impact in counties across the entire state of California, from educating the public on sustainable landscaping practices to saving millions of gallons of water a year in home landscape use. Thank you for sharing your valuable time and volunteering with the UC Master Gardener Program. We hope you consider applying for reappointment and that you continue to serve as a volunteer for the UC Master Gardener Program for the next year fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). Volunteer appointments are made annually and serve as an agreement between the volunteer and the University of California. 

Annual reappointment is required for all volunteers working under the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the UC Master Gardener Program. Please read this how-to guide thoroughly and direct any questions regarding the reappointment process to your county's Program Coordinator, Advisor or County Director. 

Reappointment begins June 1 and must be completed by all Active, Limited Active, First-Year, Gold Badge and Platinum Badge volunteers.  If you haven't finished the process already, it can be done in three easy steps!

Step One: Select “Complete Agreement Now” in VMS

  • Log into VMS, vms.ucanr.edu
  • Select “Complete Agreement Now” from prompt box at top of VMS home screen

Step Two: Complete all three sections to fulfill county requirements for participation

Step Three:  Verify Date Completed displays and Print a copy for your records

Quick Tips and FAQ's:

Who must complete the reappointment process?  The Appointment process is mandatory for all UCCE Master Gardeners / Master Food Preservers, including:

  • Active
  • Limited Active
  • First-Year
  • Gold Badge
  • Platinum Badge

How many hours do I need to volunteer for reappointment?  The minimum hours required to remain a certified UCCE Master Gardener / UCCE Master Food Preserver are:

  • 25 hours - Volunteer
  • 12 hours - Continuing education
  • Date Range - 7/1/2015 - 6/30/2016

Note: First year UCCE Master Gardeners / UCCE Master Food Preservers are required to complete a minimum of 50 volunteer hours (no continuing education requirement) before the next certification cycle.

Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 4:00 AM

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