UC Master Gardener Program
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UC Master Gardener Program

Latest Statewide Master Gardener News

Halloween Plants that will Scare the BOO out of you!

It's a scary time of year! Plants are amazing life forms, coming in a wide array of forms, shapes, and colors. Here are some of my favorite Halloween plants that are sure to scare the living daylights out of you!

Doll's Eyes (Actaea pachypoda)

Doll's eyes plants are not only poisonous but host eyeball-like berries that are highly toxic to humans but don't harm most birds. Unless you're visiting friends or relatives or vacationing in the Midwest or Northeast USA you may never set your own orbs on this plant!


Devil's Claw or Ram's Horn (Proboscidea louisianica)

This unfriendly looking species is native to the South Central USA and sports a unique horn-shaped pod. In addition to its attention-grabbing visual appeal, pigments contained in the pod are used for black dyes by several Native American tribes.

Bleeding Tooth Fungus (Hydellum peckii)

This startling-looking fungus oozes fake blood through minute pores. (The red goo is actually a result of guttation that forces water into the roots during osmosis.) Fortunately for Southern Californian's, it is found mostly in the Pacific Northwest and Europe living peaceably in a symbiosis with conifers.

White Ghosts or Indian Pipes (Monotropa uniflora)

Photo credit: Jay Sturner / Flickr

These eye-catching specimens have bright white droopy flowers reminiscent of ghosts found in spooky dark, dank basements. They hide in shady spots and live in a symbiotic relationship with a fungus in their roots providing food.

Happy Fall!
Janet

Posted on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 9:18 AM

Crazy for Catmint: Celebrate your Cat for National Cat Day Oct. 29th!

Dedicated to Rascal Snowden.

Some of us garden for ourselves, others for our children and pets. When it comes to gardening for your fur friends, especially cats, catnip is the first thing that most people think of. Catnip (or catmint), Nepeta cataria, is in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Members of this aromatic family include many common herbs like rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, lavender and perilla. Nepetalactone is the compound in catnip that gives it a fragrance. Not all cats respond to nepetalactone but those that do are drawn to the garden to sniff, roll around and generally enjoy the plant.

Create a garden experience for your furry family members to enjoy with Catnip, Nepeta Cataria. (Photo credit: Lauren Snowden)

Traditional catnip, Nepeta cataria, should be planted with caution. It re-seeds readily and therefore requires a fair amount of maintenance to keep the plant from getting out of hand. Fortunately, there are numerous kinds of catmint that a gardener can choose from, all with the same cat alluring nepetalactone.

A Honey bee nectaring catmint (Nepeta), a flower that attracts pollinators into the garden. (Photo credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey)

 

Look for a catmint with valuable landscape qualities such as a long blooming period and maneagable growth habit. All Nepeta attract pollinators, are drought tolerant, rabbit and deer resistant, and according to the American Chemical Society may help repel mosquitos from the garden.

A common and favorite catmint is Walker's Low catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker's Low'). This particular catmint was the 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year and is an attractive garden showstopper with a soft gray-green foliage and bright lavender-blue flowers. It is suitable in Sunset zones 1-24 and does not reseed like other Nepeta racemosa.

Walker's Low catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker's Low') was the 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year. (Photo credit: piedmontmastergardeners.org)

Many gardeners use Walker's Low catmint as a groundcover although with flower spikes 2-3 feet tall, it can easily be placed farther back in a planting bed and still get attention. This easy to grow catmint tolerates full sun and morning sun with afternoon shade.

If you are looking to give your garden some “cattitude”, take a little time to look into the many catmints available and which one is most suitable for your space.

Posted on Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 9:56 AM

The New Backyard Orchard Workshop: Grow Your Own Fruits and Nuts

Liberty apple espalier in the Sherwood Demonstration Garden Orchard in El Dorado County.
Thinking about planting a fruit or nut tree? Fall is the perfect time to start planning the steps for a new tree or trees, including variety selection, location in the landscape and planting plan.   Most gardeners use their taste buds during summer and fall harvest to identify fruit and nut varieties and cultivars that have desired characteristics.  Additional preparation in the fall can make for an easier and more informed process for winter procurement and planting of bareroot fruit and nut trees. 

Developing a healthy and productive backyard orchard, according to The Home Orchard, requires the following:

Identify a location for fruit trees where they will receive full sun 6 or more hours per day during the growing season, too much shade will affect the quantity and quality of fruit produced. If you don't have loose, well-drained soil you may want to amend the soil and add compost, or fertilizers.

  • Proper tree selection 
    Selecting a quality tree and caring for it increases the chances for success.  This begins with selecting a tree from a quality nursery.  At the nursery this winter, select bareroot trees that appear strong, healthy, and do not show signs of disease.

  • Good planting techniques
    Planting of bareroot trees should take place in winter, between December and March.  Dig a planting hole just bigger than the depth and width of the roots, it is best to leave a “pedestal” or to leave the soil below the root system undisturbed to help prevent the tree from settling. Fruit trees should be planted high to help avoid crown rot disease.

A UC Master Gardener volunteer working with schools on a field trip to the Sherwood Demonstration Garden in El Dorado County.
Once your trees are in the ground, having a thorough understanding of how fruit and nut trees function for proper pollination, bud formation, and fruiting will help you more effectively care for your trees.

The UC Master Gardeners of El Dorado County have gathered an excellent team of experts to teach about tree factors and show you how to take advantage of pruning techniques that allow your trees to obtain better sun exposure, better airflow, and better structure for easier netting and pest prevention.

Join the UC Master Gardeners of El Dorado County, on Nov. 2 for a new workshop titled The New Backyard Orchard, at the Cameron Park Community CenterThe New Backyard Orchard workshop will help you choose the right tree varieties for your region, plant trees correctly, and shape trees to make them attractive, as well as high-bearing. You'll receive a thorough, scientifically correct understanding of how trees generate fruit, to help you understand how to manage your orchard.

When:  
Nov. 2, 2017
10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: 
Cameron Park Community Center 
2502 Country Club Drive
Cameron Park, CA 95682

Speakers: 

  • Phil Pursel, Specialist, Dave Wilson Nursery
  • Ted DeJong, Professor Emeritus, Pomology, UC Davis
  • Chuck Ingels, Farm Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension

Cost: 
$40 registration, light lunch included

Whether you have just a tree or two, or hope to expand your food supply through intensive backyard orchard development, this workshop is for you!

UC Master Gardeners who attend will earn four hours of Continuing Education credit. To learn more and to pre-register, please visit our website at http://ucanr.edu/mgedc-workshop  or register at http://ucanr.edu/mgedc-workshop-reg. If you have questions, please call (530) 621-5528.  

References:
Ingels, C.A., Geisel, P.M. & Norton, M.V. (2007) The Home Orchard: Growing Your Own Deciduous Fruit and Nut Trees UC Agriculture & Natural Resources, Publication 3485

The California Backyard Orchard, homeorchard.ucanr.edu

Posted on Monday, October 23, 2017 at 2:25 PM

Feeling at Home with Fellow UC Master Gardeners at the 2017 Conference!


UC Master Gardeners taking photos with friends and fellow volunteers at the social media wall at the conference. Photo credit: Sheila Clyatt
The woman next to me asked if I wouldn't mind passing the butter, then she adds, "Harlequin Beetles are a nuisance." I nod in response and we move on to another exciting lunch topic. I am at a table surrounded by strange garden loving enthusiasts and I feel right at home.

In fact, it is the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference, in Long Beach, and we have descended on a very "posh" hotel with our sneakers, jeans and short practical fingernails. We stand out so much that it is almost humorous. We are a jovial crowd, relaxed and invigorated by the audible buzz of information and humor relayed at every gathering.

Some of the returnees appear to take everything in stride but I am so excited about this event that I push all fear aside and talk to every UC Master Gardener volunteer I meet. I am relieved to establish that UC Master Gardeners are totally approachable, love to share information and some can talk longer on the subject of compost then I can. That is quite an accomplishment.

What is so awesome about this event, is that when entomology is discussed instead of glazed over eyes, my fellow attendees become hypervigilant to the subject and even interject with commentary. These are my people!
I had wanted to attend UC Master Gardener conferences in the past, including the 2014 event in Yosemite. But each year after filling out the application, adding the cost of hotel and transportation I'd determine it's not within my budget. This year with the help of the funds raised by the previous silent auction made available to all UC Master Gardeners volunteers, combined with the cheap airfare on JetBlue I was able to attend.

Having fun with "face coasters" during the awards banquet and silent auction. Photo credit: Sheila Clyatt
The experience was amazing! Everything about the conference was exceptional: we ate great food, listened to stimulating lectures, participated in hands on workshops, and met wonderful staff and volunteers. I also gained an extraordinary sense that I was a part of something bigger and that my contributions back home held a more significant impact because of it.

Witnessing what other UC Master Gardeners were doing in their counties was both inspiring and reassuring. We might not be geographically close - but our goals, efforts and intentions were all in alliance. This comradery of meaningful contribution buffered both my stamina in the program and my commitment to its goals.

I hope that I might be fortunate enough to attend another UC Master Gardener conference in the coming years, and if so, I hope to see you there!

Posted on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 9:46 AM
  • Author: Sheila Clyatt

UC Master Gardener volunteers know household pests!

It's well known that the UC Master Gardener Program produces dedicated volunteers who are extremely knowledgeable about home horticulture and gardening. UC Master Gardener volunteers; especially those working at help desks, hotlines, and farmers markets, respond to thousands of requests each year, extending information and resources to California's residents that help them maintain landscapes, grow healthy food, and manage pests using the principles of integrated pest management (IPM).

Household pests such as cockroaches may be especially popular request topics within UC Master Gardener Programs serving the urban residential public in California. This photo shows oriental cockroaches, an outdoor species that can come into homes that are not properly sealed. Structural exclusion and other nonchemical preventive tactics can be used to solve this pest problem without the need for insecticides. Learn about this and other household pest solutions in order to better serve your clien

 

Pests don't disappear at the front door, however: there are plenty of significant pests threatening our households, structures, and communities. In fact, residents in urban counties may have more need for information and resources associated with household pest IPM than for landscape and garden IPM. Even rural counties are filled with homes that may be infested by key urban pests such as ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, flies, termites, pantry pests, and rodents.

UC Master Gardener Programs have seen increasing numbers and rates of requests for information about these pests. Using the principles of IPM, household pests can be effectively managed while minimizing negative impacts to our communities and the environment. For instance, many unnecessary pesticide applications are made in urban environments, leading to pesticide exposure events, pesticide resistance issues, and environmental contamination, especially of urban surface water systems. In many cases, pests could have been managed using preventive or nonchemical tactics.

Whether in the home or in the garden, IPM is one of the key knowledge areas in which UC Master Gardener volunteers receive training. Using the UC IPM website and its materials, such as Pest Notes and Quick Tips, UC Master Gardeners are able to help answer household pest requests. Even so, volunteers familiar with plant ecosystems may not always feel confident when addressing pest problems in the home. Luckily, an advanced training opportunity exists for UC Master Gardener volunteers who would like to increase their proficiency in household IPM. 

UC Master Gardeners use insect specimens, pest management products, and printed information to answer questions about key household pests during one of UC IPM’s Advanced IPM Training for MGs workshops. You can use an online continuing education module to train yourself and others about IPM for household pests in your home county.

A continuing education module, entitled Advanced IPM Training for UC Master Gardeners: Household Pests, was developed by Dr. Andrew Sutherland, Urban IPM Advisor in the San Francisco Bay Area. This advanced training has been provided several times for UC Master Gardeners at in-person hands-on workshops, but it is also available online within UC IPM's IPM Resources for UC Master Gardeners web portal.

The module includes a PowerPoint presentation, word-for-word script, instructions on hands-on exercises associated with the presentation, and handouts providing detailed information about the pests covered. Help Desk leaders and other UC Master Gardener volunteers can use these materials to deliver the modules to other volunteers using a train-the-trainer model. The module can also be delivered to residential clientele directly. Pests discussed include: ants, bed bugs, cockroaches, pantry pests, termites, and other wood-destroying insects.

We encourage you to take advantage of this unique training opportunity, and become a local expert on household pests. As always, UC ANR Advisors like Dr. Sutherland are available to answer difficult questions and to provide more in-depth training, but this module can certainly help you build confidence and prepare you for that next bed bug request (you know it's coming!).

The updated continuing education module can be found at the following URL: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/FAQ/mghousehold.html

For questions about this Household Pests module, please contact Dr. Andrew Sutherland

 

Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 2:54 PM

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