From the UC Blogosphere...
Who wouldn't like to have a lady beetle, aka ladybug? Although they're commonly called "ladybugs," entomologists call them "lady beetles." That's because they're beetles, not bugs. Nevertheless, who wouldn't like to have one? The California Grange...
A lady beetle crawls on an Iceland poppy stem. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Just as the grass looks greener on the other side, the aphids look fatter on the other side. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A sight not commonly seen: a lady beetle about to take flight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A cluster of 24 eggs that a lady beetle deposited on a Passiflora leaf. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
By Linda Lewis Griffith
Citrus trees grow so well on the Central Coast that it's easy to take them for granted. You may have a lemon tree on your patio or a tangelo that supplies the whole neighborhood with bags of sweet, tangy fruit. Even hard-working citrus appreciate love now and again. And you can do that by regularly feeding them.
Citrus trees planted in the ground get most of their nutrients from the soil. The exception is adequate nitrogen. Deficiencies in nitrogen reduce yields and adversely affect size, color, sweetness and peel texture of the fruit.
Nitrogen should be applied several times throughout the year. The first feeding is in January or February, just prior to bloom. The second occurs in May. The final feeding is in June.
Select a nitrogen fertilizer, such as ammonium nitrate or urea. Determine the size and needs of your particular plant and follow the instructions on the label. For instance, a one-year-old year tree should get 1 tablespoon of nitrogen fertilizer three times per year. As the tree matures, the application rate increases approximately one- tenth of a pound per year. A five-year-old tree may require 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer divided into three applications.
Apply the fertilizer over the root area of the tree and at least 1 to 2 feet outside the drip line. The fertilizer should be thoroughly incorporated into the soil. Avoid feeding too late in the season as it may delay fruit coloring or make the rind tough.
Citrus grown in containers have slightly different needs. Frequent watering leaches micronutrients out of the soil so they're often deficient in iron, zinc or manganese. To compensate, use a complete, slow-release fertilizer and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Foliar sprays are also effective if applied in the spring when leaves are approaching their full size.
More information about fertilizing citrus is available through the University of California Division of Agriculture and National Resources website:
Remember Stephanie Hsia? She's the beekeeper/graduate student at Harvard's Graduate School of Design who traveled through almond orchards in California's Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys in May 2014 to illustrate and pen a book about the spatial...
A honey bee heads for an almond blossom in Davis, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Harter, a UC ANR specialist based at UC Davis, and co-author Laurel Firestone, shared their thoughts in an op-ed penned for The Guardian. Firestone is co-executive director of the Community Water Center in California, which helps disadvantaged communities gain access to clean, affordable water.
The authors wrote that state records with information needed to characterize groundwater aquifers are kept confidential under a 64-year-old law that considers them proprietary to well drillers. The well logs contain data that is public in every other state in the West and include details such as where wells are located, their depth, potential pumping rates, diameter and descriptions of the sediments and rocks the wells go through.
"The lack of information is a major impediment to stewardship of the resource," the op-ed says.
California State Senator Fran Pavley introduced Senate Bill 20 in December, which if passed will make well log data publicly available in California.
"Perhaps as more community and farm wells dry up this summer, the legislature will extend its enthusiasm for transparency to the critical information needed for more equitable and sustainable management of our groundwater," Garter and Firestone conclude.
Help and Advice from the Contra Costa Master Gardeners' Help Desk
CCMG's Help Desk Response:
Thank you for contacting the Master Gardener Help Desk. Raccoons can certainly be a big problem in our gardens and yards. I'm sure that getting them out of your yard was very difficult.
You are correct that raccoons carry a parasite that can infect people and pets. This roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) is quite resistant to many of the usual controls and will live for many years in your soil, so it's wise to consider their latrine areas as contaminated.
The good news is that plants cannot become "infected" by the parasite--the almost invisible eggs can't be absorbed or otherwise enter plants. They can only contaminate the parts of the plant in direct contact with the soil. Because of this, I would avoid planting any kind of root crops (carrots, radishes, potatoes, etc.) in that area, unless you do so in a raised bed filled with soil you bring from another area. I might also avoid leafy green vegetables, especially those eaten raw (lettuce) because they are so close to the soil. Other crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants (and the plum tree) would be fine to grow there, though.
All soil, even areas away from a raccoon latrine, could potentially be contaminated with a variety of parasites and microorganisms, so you should always wash garden produce before you eat it, and wash your hands with soap and water after working in a garden, even if you wear gloves. This advice is especially true for young children.
Here is a link to information about raccoons in the garden from the University of California: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74116.html.
Please let us know if you have additional questions. Happy gardening…. Hopefully without raccoons!
Contra Costa Master Gardeners' Help Desk
Note: The Contra Costa Master Gardener Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us//span>/div>