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

Latest Statewide Master Gardener News

Search for Excellence Competition a Highlight of 2017 UC Master Gardener Statewide Conference

UC Master Gardener volunteers that were part of a river-friendly garden project in Lodi, Ca. pictured from left to right: Curt Juran, Anita Herman, Sharon McDonnell, Kathy Grant. and Lodi Mayor, Bob Johnson.
Looking to showcase the amazing projects happening in your county? Entries for the Search for Excellence (SFE) competition are now being accepted for the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference! The conference is taking place August 23-25, 2017 at the Long Beach Hyatt and Long Beach Convention Center.

UC Master Gardener volunteers, program coordinators and advisors from around the state are invited to submit their innovative educational and outreach projects by the May 1, 2017 deadline.

Search for Excellence Prizes

The stakes have been raised and the prizes are bigger than ever before! For the first time the grand prize winner of the Search for Excellence awards will receive $1,500 for their county program. Second place winner receives $1,000 and third place winner receives $500 for their county program.

UC Master Gardener volunteers from San Diego County present "Fall Plant Extravaganza". Pictured from left to right: Mike Harrelson, KUSI host and Lucy Warren.
The top three winners are individually recognized and celebrated at the conference during the awards banquet dinner. Winners are given the opportunity to present the details of their project to fellow UC Master Gardener volunteers from across the state. Prizes are awarded to the top three highest scoring entries among seven categories.

Search for Excellence Categories

Search for Excellence gives county programs the opportunity to share successful and innovative projects in the following seven areas:

  • Community service
  • Demonstration garden
  • Innovative project
  • Research (applied scientific methodology)
  • Special needs audience
  • Workshop or presentation
  • Youth program

UC Master Gardener volunteers getting youth excited about science and horticulture at AgVenture Day.
Outreach and making an impact in local communities should be the focus of the entries, which will be judged by a team of gardening and horticultural experts selected from throughout the state. Projects eligible for consideration must take place in California, be connected to the UC Master Gardener Program and have been completed between 2013-2016.

All applicants, regardless of award status, are strongly encouraged to submit a poster for display at the conference as an opportunity to share their ideas with other county programs. Winners to be announced June 2017.

For questions about submitting a project contact your local program coordinator or advisor. Additional information and forms can be found on the conference website on the Search for Excellence webpage, ucanr.edu/sites/2017MGConference/Activities/SFE/ 

We look forward to learning about the creative and impactful projects from counties big and small!

Questions? Contact: 
(Please include county name in subject line for all email communications)

Southern California (San Luis Obispo, Kern, San Bernardino, and south) 
Scott Parker 
Program Coordinator, San Diego 
Phone: (858) 822-6932 
Email: mgsfe@ucanr.edu 

Northern California (Monterey, Kings, Tulare, Inyo and north)
Marcy Sousa 
Program Coordinator, San Joaquin 
Phone: (209) 953-6111 
Email: mgsfe@ucanr.edu 

Posted on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 8:48 AM

IPM Achievement Award for Cherry Buckskin Project in Contra Costa County

Accepting an award from the CA Dept. of Pesticide Regulation, for the Cherry Buckskin Project. From left to right: Jorge Vargas, Claire Bernardo, Janet Caprile, and Matt Slattengren.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation held their annual Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Achievement Awards on Jan. 26. Awards were given in recognition of six organizations that applied problem-solving approaches to manage pests through the use of least toxic practices. One of the awards, accepted by Janet Caprile, Farm Advisor UC Cooperative Extension Contra Costa County, was for the Cherry Buckskin Project.

Since 1987, the Cherry Buckskin Project has been working to prevent the establishment of cherry buckskin disease which can decimate entire orchards. “Cherry buckskin disease is spread by leafhoppers, which acquire the disease when feeding on diseased cherries or other plants that host the disease organism. Diseased trees produce pebbly, leathery-skinned paled fruit that is most evident at harvest,” according to the UC IPM website.

Prevention of cherry buckskin disease is a collaborative effort between UC Cooperative Extension, the Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture and local cherry growers; the Cherry Buckskin Project aims at early detection through education and outreach.

A major component of the Cherry Buckskin Project is the training of UC Master Gardener volunteers and local growers. UC Master Gardener volunteers in Contra Costa County are trained annually by Caprile, who explains the history of the disease, how it is transmitted and what symptoms to be on the lookout for.

UC Master Gardener volunteers serve as early detectors and scout for symptoms of cherry buckskin disease, through an annual survey of cherry orchards in Contra Costa County. Since the beginning of the project UC Master Gardener volunteers donated more than 1,100 volunteer hours surveying cherry orchards!

Healthy cherry fruit (left) and fruit with symptoms of cherry buckskin disease (right). Photo credit: Jack Kelly Clark.
In 2002, a UC Master Gardener volunteer found the first orchard infected with cherry buckskin disease. Over the next five years, seven more orchards were identified with one or two trees showing symptoms of the disease. All of the infected trees were removed after the lab samples were confirmed to be positive. In 2015, the orchard that was a recurrent hot spot for the disease was removed and no more occurrences have been found in the annual surveys conducted since.

A huge congratulations to Janet Caprile for the well-deserved IPM Achievement Award, and a thank you to all of the UC Master Gardener volunteers in Contra Costa County that have helped make the Cherry Buckskin Project possible with the hours they have dedicated to its success.

Also attending the award ceremony with Caprile were Matthew Slattengren, Assistant Agricultural Commissioner Sealer of Weights and Measures, Jorge Vargas, Agricultural Biologist Weights and Measures Inspector, and Claire Bernardo, representing UC Master Gardener volunteers. The ceremony took place in the CalEPA headquarters Building in Sacramento, Calif.


UC Cooperative Extension, Contra Costa County, cecontracosta.ucanr.edu
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County, ccmg.ucanr.edu
UC Integrated Pest Management (IPM), ipm.ucanr.edu

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2017 at 2:18 PM

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://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8059.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

Next 5 stories | Last story

Webmaster Email: mgwomack@ucanr.edu