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

Latest Statewide Master Gardener News

California Master Gardener Handbook - 2nd Edition - Has Arrived!

California Master Gardener Handbook - 2nd Edition
The highly anticipated 2nd Edition - California Master Gardener Handbook has arrived and is available online for purchase to the public. The California Master Gardener Handbook has been the premiere choice for gardening enthusiasts on the West Coast since it was first published in 2002.

The trusted California Master Gardener handbook is a valuable resource that is packed with research-based information and more than 21 in-depth home horticulture topics. The handbook offers advice on home vegetable gardening, plant propagation, landscape design, insects, water management, weeds and much much more!

What's new inside?

The completely redesigned handbook has updated tables, graphics and color photos throughout. Technical information has been updated by University and industry experts and the handbook is more reader-friendly with a reorganized flow of information.

“The second edition handbook has been a true labor of lots of hard work and dedication and the result shows! The handbook includes many updates and expanded coverage of important topics of interest to UC Master Gardeners and avid backyard gardeners as well. The Water Management chapter include timely topics such as use of graywater and more coverage of edibles than the first edition. Controlling Garden Pests Safely, Landscape and Garden Design, Poisonous Plants and other chapters have been updated and expanded to reflect accurate information pertinent to the needs of today's environmentally-conscientious gardeners.” - Janet Hartin, Environmental Horticulture Advisor, San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles Counties and UC ANR Environmental Horticulture Associate Editor 

New topics include invasive plant species and designing and maintaining landscapes for fire protection.
New content was added on important topics including invasive plant species and designing and maintaining landscapes for fire protection. The poisonous plants chapter was completely rewritten by Judy Alsop, the former Director of the Calif. Poison Control Center, and there is an expanded chapter on water management in the home landscape.

How to order

“We received our new handbooks yesterday and believe me, they are well worth the wait--a beautiful publication that we can all be extremely proud to have as our primary educational resource. Congratulations and thanks to everyone at UC ANR who worked on updating this truly impressive publication!!” - Linda Baity, Program Coordinator, Santa Clara County

If you are a currently certified UC Master Gardener volunteer check with your local program coordinator about purchasing the new publication. All active UC Master Gardeners receive a 40 percent discount on the publication which retails for $37 to the public. Members of the public can order a copy of the publication through a local UC Master Gardener Program or by using the UC ANR online catalog.

Do you already have a copy of the new handbook? We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section below!


Posted on Monday, January 12, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Save Trees during Drought with New Tree Ring Irrigation Contraption (TRIC)

From a majestic oak, giant sequoias or a swaying palm there is nothing quite as beautiful in this world than a tree. They can provide us with shade, fruit, flowers and most importantly are the “lungs of planet”.  While we have enjoyed some wet weather over the last week, California is still suffering from extreme drought conditions.

Prioritizing Trees for Landscape Water Use

Many residents have been encouraged to reduce water use by turning off their outdoor watering systems, but this may be causing stress to established trees that are becoming increasingly thirsty for water.

In most traditional residential landscapes trees are surrounded by turfgrass. Turfgrass surrounded trees take advantage of the frequent and shallow watering schedule, typically set to help the lawn flourish. When residents eliminate or reduce water for lawns, trees cannot easily adapt to the new water shortage.

“Mature fruit trees and landscape trees are worth saving! Recognizing early signs of drought stress is important because irreversible damage can occur that no amount of watering will correct.” said Janet Hartin, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in a recent article, Save Water, But Also Save Trees During a Drought.

Replacing small plants, lawns and shrubs is easy compared to a large tree which takes years to become established. Saving mature trees during a drought should be a top priority in your landscape water use allocation.

“Two seasons without enough water can result in severe drought stress and even kill a tree,” warned Hartin. “Also, drought-stressed trees are more prone to damage from diseases and insects than non-stressed trees.”

Understanding how to water a tree effectively is important to avoid water waste and to ensure that the tree is receiving the correct amount of water for its survival.

One key factor to successfully watering a tree is understanding what soil type is present. Understanding soil types is an important factor in determining how much water is stored in the ground. For example, sandy soils dry out quickly while clay soils retain more water. Contact your local UC Master Gardener Program to learn how to determine your soil type.   

Figure 1 - Graphic adapted from Harris et al. 2004
Another important factor is understanding tree anatomy for watering (see Figure 1). The tree roots of a mature tree are found in the top three feet of soil and extend outside of the tree's canopy. This outside area of the tree roots is the most active absorption area.

Tree Ring Irrigation Contraption (TRIC)

Recently the Calif. Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) at UC Davis, UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and Ewing Irrigation devised a unique watering system called the Tree Ring Irrigation Contraption (TRIC).   Using previous data from Netafim drip tube tables and from the Irrigation Association Landscape Irrigation Auditor manual, the partners envisioned a possible solution to mitigating drought conditions and the effect on landscape trees.  The TRIC is an inexpensive kit that homeowners can put together for around $100 for one large tree.  

The TRIC could enable homeowners to adequately water trees to a depth of three feet with confidence, by using the recommended parts and using the TRIC calculator with accurate information. Aside from a recommended parts list, there is a “plug-in” calculator created by Dr. Loren Oki, UC ANR Associate Specialist in Cooperative Extension Landscape Horticulture for UC Davis & UC ANR. The TRIC calculator helps determine the run-time needed for the device.

Learn more by visiting:

Posted on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 8:52 AM

UC Master Gardeners from Across California “Growing Together” at 2014 Conference

With more than 650 participants, including 48 break-out sessions and four keynote speakers there was a wealth of knowledge and experience available to all that attended the triennial 2014 UC Master Gardener Conference.

Welcome & keynotes

Shelton Johnson, park ranger at Yosemite National Park, welcomed UC Master Gardeners to the 2014 conference in Mariposa County.
To kick-off the conference internationally acclaimed speaker and park ranger, Shelton Johnson, inspired the crowd during his welcome to Mariposa and Yosemite introduction. Johnson is a supporter for exposing minorities to National Parks and connecting them back to the natural world. He has also dedicated a majority of his work around the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and their roles in National Parks during the early 1900s.  During his welcome speech Johnson embraced UC Master Gardeners as a passionate group who had an evident love of nature, soil and the earth.  

Two keynote speakers followed Johnson's inspirational welcome, Doug Tallamy a professor in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, and Alan McHughen a public sector educator, scientist and consumer advocate for UC Riverside. Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home”, presented the importance of biodiversity in our ecosystems.

“Replacing half of the area that is now barren lawns with plants that are best at supporting food webs would create over 20 million acres of connectivity [nationally] and go a long way sustaining biodiversity in the future,” encourages Tallamy. 

The opening day's final keynote speaker, Alan McHughen, presented on what every UC Master Gardener should know about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). His presentation was focused around his research findings, published in “Pandora's Picnic Basket”. McHughen explained the basics of rDNA technology and how it is used in agriculture and horticulture.  

A magical night at Tenaya

The silent auction was a huge success raising more than $6,400 for scholarships and to help reduce the cost of the 2017 conference for all attendees.
Attendees experienced a “Magical Night at Tenaya” presented by volunteers from the UC Master Gardeners of Fresno County. During the welcome reception guests enjoyed appetizers under the stars while a pianist played on the terrace.

The silent auction was a huge success with many counties donating beautiful baskets of local goods and handmade items. The total raised from the silent auction was more than $6,400! All of the money raised will go to offset the cost of registration for the 2017 conference.

Of the $6,400 raised, $600 was set aside for need-based scholarships.  We're happy to announce the statewide UC Master Gardener Program and UC ANR are matching the $600, bringing the total up to an impressive $1800 to support need-based scholarships in 2017.

Sessions, sessions, and more sessions!

Attendees enjoyed a hands-on propagation workshop during one of the breakout sessions.
Day two of the conference was dedicated to track sessions.  With six breakout rooms and eight different session times there were 48 potential topics for UC Master Gardeners to absorb. Activities ranged from a hands-on propagation workshop and gardening during a drought to UC Master Food Preserver presentations. The array of options for conference participants made 2014 the most diverse UC Master Gardener event to date.

Visit the conference website to download some of this year's most memorable presentations. Many generous speakers have offered to share their presentations for future reference with conference attendees, visit the conference website to view the uploaded presentations.  

Following a full day of learning, attendees were invited to join together in the grand ballroom for dinner. Renee Shepherd, owner of Renee's Garden, joined UC Master Gardeners for dinner as the night's keynote speaker. Shepherd discussed her pioneering career in the seed business as well as future trends in the gardening industry. She also explained the differences between heirlooms, hybrids and open pollinated seed varieties during her presentation titled, “A Seedy Business”.

Search for Excellence Winners and Honoring Pam Geisel 

Bill Frost, associate vice president, presents Pam Geisel with the 2014 UC ANR Distinguished Service award for Outstanding Leadership. From left to right: Bill Frost, Pam Geisel and Missy Gable.
The final day of the conference started with three inspiring presentations from the 2014 Search for Excellence winners. Riverside, Santa Clara and Orange counties presented their winning projects to conference attendees.

Following the winning Search for Excellence presentations was attendees enjoyed a heart-warming celebration of gratitude for Pam Geisel, honoring her years of service to the UC Master Gardener Program. Geisel began her career with Cooperative Extension in 1981 as an environmental horticulture advisor. In 2006, Geisel became the first statewide director of the UC Master Gardener Program, helping to establish the program under the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and doubling program reach before her retirement in 2013. UC ANR's Associate Vice President, Bill Frost, was at the conference to recognize Geisel for her contributions to the program and awarded her with the 2014 ANR Distinguished Service award for Outstanding Leadership.

The conference's final keynote presenter, Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries, delivered a presentation on “Humor from the Horticultural Trenches” with many outrageous remarks and requests from the perspective of a garden clerk. Before attendees got on the road to travel home, a generous donation of plants from Monrovia were awarded to some lucky attendees.

See you in Southern California in 2017

Many thanks to the numerous volunteer, host counties and conference planning committee members who made the 2014 conference a reality.  Without their dedication and support the conference would not have been possible. We look forward to reaping the harvest of our success in growing together at the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference in Southern California.

Do you have a suggestion for the next conference or feedback for this year's event? Let us know at ucanr.edu/mgfeedback.

Posted on Monday, November 3, 2014 at 3:18 PM

UC Master Gardener Program Launches New Website

UC Master Gardener Program's new website features a clean mobile friendly design.
The UC Master Gardener Program has officially re-launched the statewide website with a clean and mobile friendly design. The new website focuses on program impacts and the mission of UC Master Gardeners.

What is new?

  • Clean new look with easy navigation
  • Program impact statements and stories from around the state with a focus on strategic initiatives: healthy communities, plants and environments
  • History timeline of UC Cooperative Extension and the UC Master Gardener Program
  • Interactive map for visitors to easily locate a local program
  • “Help Us Grow” section for online giving to support the UC Master Gardener Program statewide
  • Easy to find gardening resources for the public

“The content is useful and well-presented and most importantly, easy to find… [the new site] has come together beautifully.” - Pam Geisel, Environmental Horticulture Advisor Emeritus and past Director of the UC Master Gardener Program

The new website was developed to improve the visitor's experience, whether they are a UC Master Gardener or member of the public. We encourage UC Master Gardeners to visit the new website and become familiar with the new design and information available!

Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 1:08 PM

UC Recognizes Outstanding Master Gardener Projects with 'Search for Excellence' Awards

UCCE Master Gardener of Santa Clara County displays their recent harvest from their demonstration garden at St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy, Calif.

UC Master Gardener programs in Riverside, Santa Clara, Orange and San Diego counties have won the program's Search for Excellence competition, announced Missy Gable, director of UC's statewide Master Gardener Program. The triennial Search for Excellence awards afford county programs the opportunity to share successful projects, including demonstration gardens, workshops, presentation or hands-on programs, community service, horticulture therapy, research or youth programs.

Educating the public was the focus of the Search for Excellence 2014 competition. The entries were judged by a team of experts selected from throughout the state.

"Congratulations to all the Master Gardeners involved in carrying out these innovative projects," Gable said. "This competition celebrates the hard work of dedicated UCCE Master Gardener volunteers across the state."

The Search for Excellence competition winners will be honored at the 2014 UC Master Gardener Conference, Oct. 7-10 in Fish Camp, Calif. The next Search for Excellence competition will be in 2017.

First place winners of the triennial Search for Excellence Awards in California, UCCE Master Gardeners of Riverside County, extended outreach into all corners of their local community.
First Place - Riverside County
“There's Gold in them thar hills!” Riverside County is a big county, stretching from the Los Angeles metro area to the Colorado River. The main challenge of the UC Master Gardener Program of Riverside County was how to better fulfill their mission of educating their community on sustainable gardening practices. The answer – “Gold Miners.” Riverside County was divided into nine geographic areas with a UC Master Gardener volunteer in each area actively pursuing volunteering opportunities for their peers. Since the program began in 2011, “Gold Miners” has increased the presence of UC Master Gardeners throughout the county, giving volunteers the opportunity to provide outreach closer to home, engage new members of the public and increase the number of certified UC Master Gardeners from all regions of the county.

UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County conduct sustainable gardening and hands-on workshops for the public.
Second Place - Santa Clara County
UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County developed a one-acre teaching and demonstration garden on the grounds of St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy. The demonstration garden was designed to create educational outreach opportunities in the far southern portion of the county. UC Master Gardener volunteers provide hands-on public workshops in the garden as well as classes in both the hospital boardroom and community libraries. The objectives of the St. Louise Hospital garden includes teaching residents about low-water vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants well-suited to local growing conditions, and modeling sustainable gardening practices reflective of UC research-based horticultural principles.

UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County developed a series of step-by-step composting videos features everything from how to get started to troubleshooting a pile or worm bin.
Third Place - Orange County
Passionate volunteers from the UC Master Gardener Program of Orange County developed a series of 15 educational videos. Nine videos provide a comprehensive overview of the composting process and six videos concentrate on worm composting. Each series begins with an explanation of what composting is and shifts into how to start, maintain and troubleshoot a compost pile or worm bin. The videos are designed to instruct and encourage the gardening public to compost either at home or in community gardens. All of the educational videos were filmed and narrated by UC Master Gardeners. The videos are published on the UC Master Gardeners of Orange County public website.

First Runner-up - Orange County
Recognizing the need to reach a significantly larger number of home gardeners than demonstration booths and Farmers Market tables were engaging, the UC Master Gardeners of Orange County developed a speakers bureau. The criteria was simple: fulfill the mission of disseminating up-to-date, research-based information and to deliver "wow" presentations for the public. UC Master Gardeners created teaching plans, incorporating the statewide program mission and the ANR Strategic Vision to cover important topics such as gardening for improved nutrition and healthy living. Additionally, the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County engaged the help of Toastmasters International, an undisputed authority for training speakers.

Second Runner-up - San Diego County
UC Master Gardeners of San Diego County created a program called MG Growing Opportunities (MG-GO) which provides research-based horticulture education to teenage youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Under the guidance of UC Master Gardeners and a vocational horticultural therapist, incarcerated youth learn about ecosystem friendly, sustainable gardening. In the process, the youth acquire vocational and life skills, such as teamwork, problem solving, self-esteem, and leadership. The goals of MG-GO are to introduce sustainable gardening practices to an under-served population, highlight gardening as a healing endeavor, and develop a replicable model for statewide use.

About us
The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with UC research-based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management practices. It is administered by local UCCE county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from University of California, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops. With programs based in 50 California counties and 6,048 active members, UC Master Gardener volunteers donated 385,260 hours last year and have donated more than 4.2 million hours since the program inception in 1981.

Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 3:56 PM

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