- Author: Betty Victor
While working the Master Gardeners information table at Home Depot one recent Saturday, we had a young boy about 9 or 10 who was with his mother. His mother had stopped to ask us a question.
The boy had a small plant in his hand so I gave him one of the package of “worm poop” and was explaining to him how to use it. He immediately said” I know what this is. A few years ago when I was in the 3rd grade our class went to Youth Ag Day at the Solano County Fair Grounds and I stopped at the Master Gardeners table. I saw the worms and got a package of worm poop. But because I am in a higher grade this year our class did not attend.”
I asked him if he had a worm bin, he said no but would like one, his mom was very ok with it. So we gave him the information we had on how to get started. Mom and son went into the store and came out with a small plastic dark bin. He asked if that was what to use, we told him yes and where to get the worms. So off mom and a very eager boy went to get his worms.
I just want all the Master Gardeners who had a part in filling the worm poop packages and who work the Youth Ag Day Table at this event to know that you made an impression on this boy and I bet several others as well.
Good Job Master Gardeners!
- Author: Amy Haug
Hopefully, you all have planted your garden tomatoes and, like me, are anxiously waiting for that first tomato to ripen. While we are waiting, have you ever wondered why the tomato is considered a fruit and/or a vegetable? It is an interesting story that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
It all started at the end of the nineteenth century when special interest groups sought tariff protection on all sorts of imported goods. The Tariff Act of 1883 required a tax to be paid on imported vegetables but not fruit.
John Nix was the founder of the John Nix and Co, the largest seller of produce in New York City and one of the first companies to ship produce from Virginia, Florida and Bermuda to New York. In a landmark case of Nix v Hedden, John Nix sued the tax collector of the Port of New York, Edward Hedden, to recover taxes paid on tomatoes because it was, he claimed, botanically a fruit and not vegetable.
During the trial, the lawyers on both sides presented multiple dictionary definitions of fruits and vegetables. In addition, several produce sellers with years of experience, were brought in as witnesses and asked if these definitions had any special meaning in actual commerce.
After weeks of testimony, the court unanimously decided that the dictionary definitions have no special meaning in trade and the ordinary meaning of the consumer must be used to determine the case. Because tomatoes were prepared and eaten as vegetables, as in a main course or in a soup, instead of as a dessert, as fruit usually is, tomatoes must be classified as a vegetable.
The justices sided with the everyday definition of tomatoes, not the scientific definition of tomatoes and to this day, tomatoes are considered a vegetable, while botanically, are still a fruit.
- Author: Lowell Cooper
I am a member of the Northern California Rose Society – for the fun of it. I enjoy raising the roses and having people to talk with about them. At the time, I didn't realize there were such things as ‘rose shows' locally. Also state and nation wide. I thought to myself, what a quaint event that must be. Little did I know it was a cross between an Olympic event and a traveling circus. First of all the exhibitors were expected to show up at the exhibition hall at an ungodly hour, with all the roses they wanted to show. So some of the more vigorous growers had 30 or more roses of all sizes, colors, fragrances, and species. It was very early in the morning, so we all performed without coffee at one step above zombies. But before the roses could be prepared for showing, one member arrived by truck with loads of exhibition material: several different size stands and tubes – like test tubes – for the roses, cards to be filed out to identify plants, lay-out material for the roses to be put in categories, and tables. What set-up material wasn't on the truck, seemed to come with individuals from home storerooms. For many people this was a familiar experience, for me it was new. Steep learning curve. I expected an elephant or at least several clowns to emerge from these equipment vehicles.
After all the material was delivered and unloaded, then the roses are prepared. This takes time, several hours! Fortunately the atmosphere was quite friendly, so it was possible to ask questions and get reliable answers about how to prepare the exhibits. I had expected this to resemble the laboratory tests of my college years and expected funny business: secret sabotage in the spirit of winning. I was pleased and surprised to find the atmosphere quite friendly and so ‘Olympian' only the intensity and extent of the care for detail and the degree collection of the specimens for showing. The roses were cut, snipped, leaves washed down, delicately stuffed into tubes or exhibition vases depending on the growers aesthetic sensibility. For me, it was also important to smell all the entrants plants – terrific aromas. Virtually all of the exhibitors were seniors, so by this time, about 4 hours between arrival and beginning of judging, we were moving heavily around the place looking for chairs and anticipating a nap. In general, this is the kind of activity that AARP would sponsor.
The judging began exactly on time, 4 hours after the prelims. Much to my surprise, the experience was very positive. It is a story unto itself, and it all originally began for me in master gardener training. I would love to tell it. Interested? If I get one affirmative, I'll go forward.
- Author: Kathy Low
A few nights ago something tripped the motion sensor lights in the front of my house. When I looked out the window to see what tripped the lights, to my terror I saw a possum, technically an opposum (Didelphis virginiana), the size of a big cat casually snooping around the planters in the front yard. Making loud noises didn't seem to scare it away, so it was time to do my research on the creature.
Possums are native to the East Coast and were introduced into California in 1910. Weighing up to fifteen pounds, they're generally two to three feet long, including their tail. Possums carry a variety of diseases such as tuberculosis, spotted fever, and leptospirosis. They may also be infested with fleas, ticks, mites and lice.
Possums can climb trees to escape predators. When they feel threatened they may growl and bare their teeth. They do get into fights with cats and dogs. They've lost most of their fear of people. And once they move into a neighborhood they'll take up residence as long as there is food, water and shelter for them. Nocturnal creatures, they feed on fruits, nuts, birds, bird eggs, frogs, mice, rats and other small mammals, frogs, insects, snails, green plants, and pet food. It will eat both fresh meat and road kill. As you can deduce, they are true omnivores and scavengers. Remove any fallen rotten fruit or nuts and don't leave pet food out overnight to make your yard less hospitable to possums.
They take shelter beneath dense cover, brush piles, tree cavities, under porches, decks, beneath houses, under steps, and garden sheds. To prevent them from taking up permanent shelter you need to exclude them from their shelter with a fence. Cut back any dense cover, and clear your yard of brush piles.
To learn more about possums and building an effective fence, see the UC Integrated Pest Management Pest Note on opossums at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74123.html.
- Author: Debbie Gordon
I travel a lot now that I am retired. Being a gardener, I am always looking at what is growing at every hotel, city, beach, mountain and roadside as I go. One of the biggest joys I have is finding all these wonderful plants I have never seen before. Sometimes, I want to cement that special memory by re-creating that in my garden.
This is how it used to go.........I see that the plant says it requires a zone other than mine. I consider this. Then I think I can I use all my power to over-ride the obstacles. I find the plant at a local nursery......fresh delivery that week. It is lovely and all those memories come flooding back so I have to have it. I purchase them, and I plant them carefully with all the loving care and best soil I could provide for them. I plant them in the sun, partial shade or shade just like the little tag says to. I water them just like it said. Then it dies. So I buy more and plant them again. They die again. I do this year after year, thinking maybe I just got a bad plant.....but that was not the problem.
We all tend to be swayed by those pretty flowers and plants at the nursery. They look lovely, and I assume that if they are at my local big box store or garden store, they would thrive with a little work and know how. I am a Master Gardener....I got this... I could re-create that vacation feeling by having the plants I adored. Wrong.
It turns out I made the same mistake most people do, and that is they do not thoroughly investigate if that plant actually should be planted in our area. Once I really started pondering about it all, it makes perfect sense. Polar bears are not found in Arizona, should not be in Arizona, and even though folks might like seeing them in zoos there, chances are they would not be happy or thrive no matter how much we like them.....so, I put this to practice in my garden and I have to say, my garden and I are happier, and I am not so frustrated. Ok....maybe I am still grieving over not being able to get a Gardenia hedge to thrive in my hot, hot, sunny garden, but I will live and so will the Gardenias that I would have planted AGAIN and AGAIN and then died.
I have always known about planting zones, but like many, we fall in love with a plant and think we can improve the chances of survival with a few changes in soil, sun and protection during heat or cold. Some times we get lucky and it lives but it struggles, and struggles and we eventually give up. What we find is that we will not get the beautiful plant we hope for because it is not getting what it needs. It looked great in the store because it was just shipped from the perfect environment, not what we can offer, no matter how much we adore it.
So...... now when I want to remember that special plant or garden, I get something like a small statue, wind chime or garden art that takes me back and I put that in my garden. No one dies, and I have my memories. I learn to enjoy the wonderful plant variety we do have in Solano County. They are awesome, and I bet those folks in my travels wish they could grow them too. But they can't. I can. Enjoy.
So.....get in the zone. Look up your zone and the zones around you. We have a big planet with many many different zones, and the joy is, they have their own perfect plants and so do we. We need to respect that. So.....get in your zone, and be happy and your garden will love and reward you for it.
Interested in getting started in your zone? ...this site will give you the references you need to fine your zone!