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

Latest Statewide Master Gardener News

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Guides for determining the first and last frost dates for a specific area or region are available using historical references from the National Weather Service.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

Save-the-Date: 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference

Save-the-Date: 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference in Long Beach, Calif.  
August 22-25, 2017

The triennial 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference is taking place Aug. 22-25, 2017 in Long Beach, Calif. The UC Master Gardener Conference is one of the largest gathering of certified Master Gardener volunteers in the world. The last conference in 2014 saw more than 700 attendees who represented 45 counties across California.

The quality and value of the conference is unparalleled in the industry; bringing together leaders in home horticulture and sharing the latest UC research from the field.

  • 99% of conference attendees surveyed said they would recommend the conference to a friend or colleague
  • 94% of attendees reported being satisfied with the conference topics and training
  • 92% reported speakers met or exceeded expectations  

Location, Location, location!

Long Beach, Calif. offers conference attendees the perfect blend of urban sophistication and beach resort.
The 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference will be hosted in the heart of Southern Calif. in Long Beach. The City of Long Beach lands almost exactly on the border of both Orange and Los Angeles Counties, this unique location offers conference attendees the perfect blend of urban sophistication and beach resort.

Things to do:

  • Aquarium of the Pacific
  • Rainbow Lagoon Park Shoreline Village
  • Queen Mary (5 min.)
  • Catalina Island 
  • Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens  (1 hr. drive)
  • Disneyland (30 min.)
  • J. Paul Getty Museum (1 hr. drive)

Hyatt Regency Long Beach

Hyatt Regency Long Beach is the official 2017 conference hotel. The hotel is within walking distance to the aquarium, shopping, beaches, and hundreds of restaurants.
The Hyatt Regency Long Beach is the official 2017 conference hotel and is conveniently located adjacent to the Long Beach Convention Center. Nestled on the waterfront, the conference hotel is within walking distance to the aquarium, shopping, beaches, and hundreds of restaurants.

The Hyatt Regency offers 528 recently renovated guest rooms with spectacular ocean views and access to deluxe amenities, including: spa, fitness room, business center and an outdoor pool. Each room includes down comforters, remodeled bathrooms and are all PURE hypoallergenic compliant which provides a better night's sleep for all guests.

A reduced rate has been negotiated for all conference attendees, the reduced conference hotel rate is not yet available for booking. Room rate details and the process for booking will be announced in future conference communications. All hotel information will also be added to the conference website, check back often for details.

Join us and be inspired

The triennial conference is an important statewide event designed to train volunteers with the most current and up-to-date research-based horticulture information. Training from the statewide conference is used as a jumping board for local-county based programs to be inspired by speakers, content and each other.  Attendees are encouraged to share the information in their own county-based programs.

 Conference Activities:

  • Book Signings
  • MarketPlace
  • Photo Contest
  • Poster Session
  • Search for Excellence
  • Silent Auction
  • Tours
  • Vendor Mall

The 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference is a fantastic opportunity to network and visit with fellow UC Master Gardener volunteers from all over California.  Save-the-date and see you Aug. 22-25, 2017 in Long Beach!

Visit the conference website for more details, ucanr.edu/2017mgconference.

Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 2:05 PM

Don’t Spring into Planting – Wait for the Threat of Frost to Subside

Frost damage to young tomato seedlings. Photo credit: Goldlocki
Seed catalogs have been coming in the mail for weeks showing off their new varieties and tempting home gardeners with harvest photos featuring vibrant fruits and veggies.  Don't let early spring like weather trick you into planting warm weather crops . . . just yet. 

Extreme heat or cold can cause damage to both cool and warm season vegetable crops.  Cool season vegetable crops like carrots, lettuce and broccoli bolt (premature flowering and seeding) when warm weather arrives.  Warm season vegetable crops like tomatoes, corn, beans and summer squash can easily be damaged by cooler weather and freezing temperatures.

As the transition from cool season vegetable crops to warm season vegetable crops occurs pay special attention to the weather and most importantly the frost date. Don't forget to harvest cool season crops before they bolt, and only plant warm season crops after the threat of frost.  

A cold frame provides a warm and protected space for your spring seeds, allowing gardeners to start gardening before the threat of frost as subsided. Photo credit: Sandy Metzger
To determine when the threat of frost is over use a frost date calendar, and read seed packets and plant labels for recommended planting times.  A frost date calendar is based on historical weather data and gives approximate dates of the first and last frost. Frost date calendars assist in determining when to plant and how long the growing season is in a particular area.

Time of planting, temperature and moisture all contribute to the success of a home vegetable garden.  If planted early, seeds may not successfully germinate and tender seedlings may be damaged by cold.  If planted late, vegetables may not have enough days to reach harvest.    

If you are eager to get your spring garden moving forward and can't wait until after the threat of frost has passed, here are some ways to extend your gardening season:  

Growing your own vegetables is rewarding when done properly, don't let poor planting practices ruin your harvest! Planning and preparation will help ensure the success of your crop, for more information on vegetable gardening and water-saving tips visit the University of California Garden Web


Last day http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-california-last-frost-date-map.php
First day http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-california-first-frost-date-map.php

California Master Gardener Handbook, Chapter13 Home Gardening


Posted on Monday, March 14, 2016 at 1:29 PM

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