- Author: Kathy Low
This holiday season forget shopping at the malls and big box stores and consider purchasing unique gifts that support local Master Gardener programs. Two special gift ideas support the Master Gardener program in Solano. The first gift idea is tickets to the premiere of the Master Gardeners' Garden Tour in Solano County scheduled for April 29, 2018. Ticket holders will be able to visit and learn about six captivating home gardens in the Fairfield area. Advance sale ticket prices are $30.
The second gift idea is a copy of the Solano Gardening Resource Guide, ideal for both novice and expert gardeners. The full color guide includes a monthly gardening calendar, details on soil types and climate zones in Solano county, information on local nurseries, gardening product suppliers, soil testing laboratories and so much more. The price is $20
Both the Garden Tour tickets and Resource Guide can be purchased in person at the UC Master Gardener Office by contacting Jennifer Baumbach, Master Gardener Program Coordinator for Solano and Yolo counties at email@example.com or (707) 389-0645. Garden tour tickets can also be purchased online at www.solanomg.ucanr.edu.
Another gift idea is the Gardener's Companion Journal by the Yolo Master Gardeners. The journal includes monthly planting guides and garden checklists, as well as information on drought tolerant plants. The cost is $18. To purchase a copy, contact Jennifer Baumbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 389-0645.
With 2018 just around the corner, who couldn't use a new calendar? A full color 2018 Gardening Calendar is available from the Sacramento Master Gardeners. Besides being a beautiful calendar with lots of space to pencil in important items, the calendar also provides you with monthly tips on what to do in the garden as well as a gardening guide with details on plant seeds, roots, stems, leaves and flowers. The calendar sells for $10. You can find a list of local Sacramento gardening stores selling the calendar, or order copies online at www.sacmg.ucanr.edu.
Purchase these items from your local Capitol Corridor Master Gardener program and help support the local county programs!
- Author: Karen Metz
My last blog focused on some of the trees and plants I had encountered in the Galapagos. This time I'd like to share the experience of visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station with you. The Station is very near the Galapagos National Park Service Headquarters, just outside the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. The Research Station is the working arm of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands. The Foundation is an international, independent nongovernmental organization that advises the Park Service. Their mission is to conduct research to guide conservation efforts, run educational programs to increase local support for conservation, train Ecuadorian biologists and educators and host visiting scientists from all over the globe.
Everyone's favorite part was the Giant Tortoise Captive Breeding Center where we got to see tortoises at all stages of their life cycle. They grouped the animals by size so that the larger animals wouldn't bully the younger ones. Some baby tortoises of threatened species are brought to the center and kept until they get to about the 5 pound size. At that point they are released back to their island of capture. Once they are that size they are felt to be fairly safe from predators. Scientists became involved trying to support tortoises when certain species became threatened and some extinct. It was thought to be especially appropriate since humans had been involved with large changes in the tortoise populations secondary to taking of the adults for fresh meat in the sailing ship days and introduction of alien animal species that were predators of baby tortoises, such as dogs and cats. They are doing an incredible job. Later in the day we went to the highlands and were able to see some giant tortoises in the wild.
Other parts of the Research Center were more familiar. They have a huge herbarium with over 40,000 botanical specimens. In the exhibit hall there were eye catching displays of seeds of plants endemic and native to their islands and another of seeds that had washed up on their beaches. Outdoor displays taught visitors about the fight against alien plants that are almost always invasive and detailed their struggles against the blackberry vine. Another panel described their fight against cottony cushion scale which was threatening 90 different species of plants that they are treating with the first intentionally introduced species to act as biological control, the Australian lady bug.
Later in the evening two researches lectured to us about their research involving marine debris. They are monitoring plastics that are washing up on beaches and counting organisms that have attached themselves to the plastic during its sojourn in the ocean. Aside from the litter and entanglement issues that plastic debris can cause, they feel it is an important component of invasive species spread. Their studies are not complete but to date 25% of the samples have biofouling organisms.
Being so far away from home, it was inspiring to see people grappling with many of the same issues that we do. Because of their island home with its incredible number of species found nowhere else in the world, their battle is even more time critical than our own.
- Author: Jenni Dodini
The current project that is ongoing in gazebo area is a seating area that is completely shaded no matter the time of day all summer long. Steve has undertaken all the hard work, and my task so far has been research. MANNNNN..... What a task!
I have looked online at my favorite sites: GardeningKnowHow, MissouriBotanicalGarden, and Sunset. I have also poured through The Sunset Western Garden Book trying to make an informed decision on what will go into this area that will provide a colorful and inviting atmosphere.
First, I made a list from looking at all the pretty pictures. Then I began looking up each plant. The list grew shorter and longer as some plants were added and others deleted. The easy part was in eliminating plants that will simply die if it gets too hot, are to thirsty, and ones that are not in our growing area. The hard part was containing myself when I saw another pretty plant on the page. (It was kind of like the dog in the movie "Up":-)
So far, I have looked up a couple plants more than once, so that must mean I need to really strongly consider incorporating them into the landscaping. Some I can just move over there from another shady place in the yard. I did come home with a couple plants from the plant exchange, but there now needs to be companion plants for them. And some flowering plants. And plants that the creatures won't enjoy tasting. And plants that will make you want to go over and touch. And plants that are a little unique. And then a bit of garden art. And then....
And now you have a clear definition of a "Gardening Conundrum".
- Author: Kathy Low
You've probably heard of the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) quarantine in a large section of Solano County. The quarantine applies not only to commercial growers, but to home gardeners as well. To find out if you live in the quarantine zone, check the map at https://admin.solanocounty.com:4433/depts/agriculture/quarantine.asp.
The Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly is a very destructive pest because its larvae tunnels into, feeds upon and develops in the pulp of many fruits and vegetables. The Medfly multiplies rapidly and tolerates cooler weather better than other fruit flies. This makes the Medfly the top economically disastrous fruit fly.
According to a report on the Agriculture Commissioner's website, “including farm production and locally sourced, value-added food processing, agriculture's combined economic contribution to the Solano County economy was $617.6 million.” So it's important for home gardeners to comply with the quarantine to help protect Solano's economy.
Originating in sub-Suharan Africa, Medfly infestations are costly to area agriculture and are expensive to eradicate. The Medfly may have been transported on fruit illegal sent to an individual in the county. So it's imperative that homeowners do not transport fresh fruit or vegetables outside the quarantine zone to help stop the spread of this invasive pest. More details about the Medfly can be found at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/fruit/mediterranean_fruit_fly.htm.
If you live in the quarantine zone, it's important not to transport any fresh fruits or vegetables from your garden off your property, since they may potentially have been infested. The California Department of Food and Agriculture states the fruits and vegetables should be eaten on-site, or processed (juiced, frozen, dehydrated, cooked, made into jam) on site. Any unconsumed or unprocessed fruits and vegetables should not be discarded in your green waste bin. Instead, they should be double bagged in plastic bags, sealed, and discarded in your trash bin.
Right now persimmons are ripening and nearing harvest in Solano County. Again, if you live in the quarantine zone, it's important not to transport them off your property. If you have too many to eat fresh, you can process them at home. The two most common methods of preserving them are by dehydration, and by freezing them. Instructions on how to dry and/or freeze them can be found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/index.html. You can also make jam out of them. But beware that many jam recipes on the Web are not “safe” recipes. According to Diane Metz, Nutrition Advisor Emeritus, pectin company jam recipes are considered safe. So below are links to the MCP and Pomona's pectin persimmon jam recipes. http://www.pomonapectin.com/recipes/persimmon-jam/http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/mcp-persimmon-freezer-jam-63386.aspx
Questions about safe home food preservation can be sent to Diane Metz at
DLMetz@ucdavis.edu. If you don't have email, call Katie Churchill at (530) 666-8143 and ask that the message be sent to Diane Metz.
- Author: Martha White
The California Master Gardener program is under the guidance of the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources division (www.ucanr.edu). Throughout the training, emphasis is placed on teaching current best practices. We learn about Integrated Pest Management (www.ipm.ucanr.edu), and which are the beneficials- “good bugs,” and which are the pests- “bad bugs”. Most especially, we are taught to always consider the impact of any synthetic pesticides we may be considering to use on the space of earth we are responsible for, whether it is flower pots on a patio or an orchard containing several hundred fruit trees. Rachel Carson introduced many of these ecological concepts to the general population in her best selling book, Silent Spring, published in 1962. I'd like to tell you more about this amazing woman.
Rachel grew up on a large farm in Pennsylvania. Her nature-loving mom taught Rachel to recognize the various bird songs, and names of trees, insects, and wildflowers. Rachel often roamed their 65 acres of woods, fields, and orchards with her dog, Candy. One day when exploring, she found a small fossilized seashell. She wondered how something from the far-off ocean could have ended up in Pennsylvania. Her mother explained about how the earth had changed over the ages, and that Pennsylvania used to be covered by ocean waters. This began Rachel's fascination with the ocean.
Rachel loved to write stories, and frequently read her stories to her dog when they were playing outdoors. She was only 10 years old when her first published story appeared in St. Nicholas Magazine. She soon realized that she had a talent for telling stories that others were interested in hearing. During her junior year in college, Rachel took her first Biology course, and loved it! She said that she had finally found something that she could write about! She decided to major in Biology. When she graduated, the Depression made it difficult for everyone to find work, especially a young woman in a field that had very few women. Rachel got a job writing radio scripts on sea life. Her first book, Under the Sea was published at the same time that Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Rachel Carson worked as a biologist for 15 years, and was able to go places that very few women were allowed, performing jobs that very few women did. During this time, she wrote two more books about the web of life, the Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea.
Synthetic pesticides were developed during World War II to be sprayed on soldiers and their campsites in order to kill insects that carried and spread diseases. After the war, these pesticides were routinely being used in city parks, schools, beaches, and farms. In particular, DDT was great for getting rid of mosquitoes and flies, and other insects that damaged farmers' crops. The multimillion-dollar industrial chemical industry assured the government and the public that this process was absolutely safe. Rachel Carson spent four years, carefully researching and documenting her findings, about declining bird, fish, and insect populations where DDT was routinely being sprayed. She asked,”But what about people? What about the harm it is doing to people?” No one had ever tried to take a stand against these big businesses, or the federal agencies that approved the use of these chemicals. Silent Spring first appeared in The New Yorker as advance excerpts, before being published in 1962 by Houghton-Mifflin. Rachel said she came up with the title as she imagined all the birdsongs of spring would be silenced if DDT remained in use.
The chemical industry spent a quarter of a million dollars to discredit Rachel's research and to malign her character, saying she was just a “bird and bunny lover”, a spinster who was “overwrought about genetics.”
Silent Spring's message caught the attention of President John F. Kennedy, who launched federal and state investigations into Rachel's claims. But Rachel had carefully done her research and documentation. References and footnotes at the end of Silent Spring take up 54 pages! She testified before several federal committees, and before the U.S. Congress, asking for new policies to protect the environment. She spoke clearly, and in language that was understood by the general public. Her speech helped to convince Congress to ban the use of DDT in our nation.
Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, helped to spark the environmental movement that eventually led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, Rachel died from breast cancer just a year and a half after the publication of her book. In 1980, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. If Rachel Carson were alive today, I like to think that she would be surprised at the impact from her book. Many credit Rachel with beginning the ecology movement. I hope you and I can continue to reflect Rachel Carson's practice of considering carefully the interconnectedness of our actions, both in our gardens and in our world.