Nursery and Floriculture Alliance
University of California
Nursery and Floriculture Alliance

From the UC Blogosphere...

Cool Season Vegetables


Cool Season Vegetables

By Tami Reece    UCCE Master Gardener


Fall is the perfect time to refresh your garden and keep it growing into the winter. You want to choose the right crops and the best location; choose cold weather protection best suited to your needs and know your frost dates.

 Cool season crops thrive in cooler temperatures and several have shorter seasons than warm season crops. Cool season vegetables grow best between 45 and 55⁰F and 55 to 75⁰F and most mature cool season vegetables are frost tolerant. Winter crops can be planted from seed if there is sufficient time for the plant to become established before the first frost. Otherwise, it's best to consider using transplants. It's important to know the local frost dates and plan and plant accordingly. The approximate frost dates for San Luis Obispo County are:


Interior area         First Frost:  October 7            Last Frost:   April 20

North County       First Frost:   November 7        Last Frost:   April 17

Coast/SLO          First Frost:   December 31       Last Frost:   February 15



Pick a location that will get full sun, but will be shielded from the wind or frost such as near a south facing wall or fence. If the best location for your winter garden is the same location as your spring and summer garden, it's important to regenerate the soil that provided your spring and summer crops. Work in several inches of compost throughout the planting area to replenish and rebuild the soil.


 Choose the right form of weather protection based on your needs and available resources. Cloches make for a simple cold weather protectant. A cloche is something you put over an individual plant to protect it from frost or freeze. They can be plastic milk jugs, glass or plastic cloches, or even cardboard boxes. Row covers are permeable fabrics placed over plants or frames.  Heavier fabrics can protect to 24 degrees. Cold frames are bottomless frames placed on the ground, with a hinged top that act like a mini greenhouse. Lastly, a good straw mulch of 6 to 10 inches loosely scattered can provide additional protect from frost.  

With a little preparation, you can have fresh vegetables throughout the fall and winter seasons.


Are you interested in becoming a UCCE Master Gardener? Join us at our Informational Meeting, Monday, October 20 at 1:00 p.m. in our auditorium at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. For more information please visit:





Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 6:51 PM

Daily Life For Master Gardeners


Fall Planting

By Andrea Peck


I've heard that fall is the time for planting ornamentals, but I must confess I have always wondered why. Logically, I'd assumed that the reason fall planting is best is to gain the benefit of rain. But, California, as a rule, does not weep measurable precipitation during those three grand months. Contrarily, the fall months are often some of our warmest and driest, particularly along the coast.

So what gives?

I decided to dig a bit deeper and I discovered that much of the interwebs is composed of forums that discuss the merits of vegetable planting during the fall.  Brussels sprout and broccoli fans are consistently represented and there is a bit of showing off with the mention of exotica, such as watermelon radish and red perilla. There are fancy photos and book loads of recipes involving kohlrabi and spinach. Finally, I unearthed it: the reason we plant in fall.

And confound it; no matter the angle that I view gardening, it appears that the future-think approach is the one with the most rewards. If you dial back to spring, you will see what I mean. Planting in spring is notoriously popular – you can visualize the frenzy, as ladies and gentlemen fling themselves amongst the colorful spring flowers and vegetable starts.

 Such a relief from the doldrums of winter!

But, tumble into this marketing ploy and you will come to learn that planting in spring lends little support for the average new ornamental. Think of summer - it's not hard with that dry desperate heat still smoldering around us. Now think of that poor plant that you stuck in the earth during the spring. You watered it for a bit, assuming it would soon root in and stand on its own. Then summer waltzes in with its water restrictions and phenomenal temperatures. If you are like me you see a number of dead “new” plants creating texture and sculptural interest in your landscape. Mine were even drought tolerant.

Planting during the fall is the opposite. Just as you are finished nurturing your little plant infant, the winter steps in to take over with the real irrigation manna.

But, hold fast! There are other reasons that make fall planting ideal. Apparently plant shoots require fewer nutrients as winter dormancy approaches. Also during the fall, carbohydrate “food” that is produced in the leaves is moved to the roots – this promotes growth and survival.

Autumn generally shows a temperature shift, as well. The temperature may continue to feel overwhelming, but the days are quickly becoming shorter and the nights cooler – a perfect combination for plant growth. Warm days keep soil temperatures elevated which encourages root growth, while the overall cooler temperatures lessen moisture loss through the leaves. 

Winter brings changes which promote a hardy plant over time. Rain provides clean moisture and nitrogen. Colder temperatures slow top growth which allows rain and cool soil to focus on root growth. Warmer air temperatures arrive with spring. The fall plant, allowed the extra resources of initial warmer soils, cooler air and the subsequent winter rains and cool temperatures, is primed to support top growth. Root growth continues during the spring which allows the plant a better chance towards survival during the increased dryness and heat of summer.

Now, with all that nourishing and care – and planning - your little one is ready to show off a full flush of foliage.


Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Kiwifruit industry is making a comeback in California

California kiwifruit was valued at $23 million in 2012. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)
Kiwifruit, the 67th most-valuable crop in California, had its heyday in the 70s and 80s, before production slowed somewhat, reported Reed Fujii in the Stockton Record. However, UC Cooperative Extension advisor Janine Hasey, says it appears to be growing in popularity once again.

All of U.S. kiwifruit is grown in California. Hasey told the reporter that most kiwifruit come from Sutter, Yuba and Butte counties, as well as the southern San Joaquin Valley. Strong market demand and prices have prompted at least one major grower to expand.

"They actually plan to plant 800 acres in Yuba County, which is a huge increase," Hasey said.

Kiwis are native to China, but are commonly associated with New Zealand. Called the Chinese gooseberry, they were renamed "kiwifruit" - after flightless birds native to New Zealand - for the export market in the 1950s. Kiwifruit vines are frost sensitive and require plenty of heat in the summer. Of the 27 most commonly eaten fruits, kiwis are the fourth most nutrient dense, following papayas, mangos and oranges, according to the Network for a Healthy California's Harvest of the Month.

Hasey said consumers are drawn to the fruit's sweet-tart taste and nutritional value.

“They're really packed with potassium and vitamins and antioxidants, and a lot of people like them,” she said.

Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 4:20 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

Vines for a Trellis

Help for the Home Gardener from the CCMG Help Desk

Client Question:
The client was at the Shadelands Farmers' Market in Walnut Creek and made contact with the “Ask A Master Gardener" table. They wanted some information on planting a suitable vine for this area that could be grown on a trellis. They would prefer a California native. The vine will be in full sun. The AAMG table provided some guidance and also passed the question along to the Help Desk to provide a more complete answer.

Master Gardener Help Desk Response:

Passiflora caerulea
I understand from our colleagues at the Shadelands Farmers' Market that you would like to plant a vine on a trellis in a sunny area of your yard. You would also prefer a California native. A second choice would be a non-native vine that doesn't use too much water. The Master Gardeners you spoke with at the farmer's market suggested the non-native Passion Vine (Passiflora caerulea) which has beautiful flowers, and you were wondering if there were others.

We are blessed with a large number of vines that grow well in Contra Costa County. The Contra Costa Water District website “Gardening in Contra Costa County, Guided Plant Search” ( lists 57 low-water using vines which do well in full sun. The UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars website ( also lists several low water-using vines. On both websites, each vine is accompanied by a picture and description. The choice can be daunting! There are many personal preferences to be considered when selecting a vine: do you want an evergreen vine (has leaves year-round) or a deciduous vine (loses leaves in winter); what color flowers do you prefer; do you want fruit; and how vigorous a grower?

Because I don't know if your trellis is on a fence or is a free-standing arbor, I will list a few of my favorites which could be used in either location.

  • Vitis californica
    California Grape
    (Vitis californica ‘Roger's Red') is a fast-growing deciduous native California grape, or at least a hybrid with a native, which has the benefit of being rather drought tolerant, needing deep watering every 2 weeks or less when planted in the ground. California Grape is a pretty aggressive plant and once established will want to reach out and grow wherever it can. I have this vine growing on a large arbor to provide shade. This selection is also well known for its glorious red/orange leaf coloration in the fall. It does produce grapes about the size of raisins, edible but not exactly fulfilling….maybe small batches of jams? And you might want to give consideration to where the grapes fall as they will be something of a nuisance if they are stepped on and carried into the house. You will also become close friends with the neighborhood's birds and squirrels.

    Violet Trumpet Vine
    Violet or Lavender Trumpet Vine
    (Clytostoma callistegioides) is an evergreen non-native vine with large lavender trumpet shaped flowers in late spring to summer, a low to very low water user, and also on the UC Davis All-Stars list.

    Lilac Vine
    Lilac Vine
    (Hardenbergia violacea) This a vigorous evergreen vine originally from Australia with purple pea-like flowers in late winter to early spring, a low water user, and also on the UC Davis All-Stars list. You would probably want to prune this vine back annually to prevent tangling. There are also varieties with white ('Icicle') and pinkish purple flowers ('Happy Wanderer' and 'Canoelands'), although I don't know the local availability. The purple flowers are usually widely available. This vine makes a glorious show when in bloom and will cover a long fence top to bottom. You can ask my neighbor.

    Carolina jessamine
    Carolina jessamine
    (Gelsemium sempervirens) is a beautiful evergreen non-native vine with yellow flowers and shiny green leaves. This vine needs regular water when young, but is fairly drought-tolerant once established. One caution -- all parts of the plants are poisonous if eaten.

    Chilean jasmine
    picture: Annies
    Chilean jasmine
    (Mandevilla laxa) is a deciduous non-native twining vine with white funnel shaped flowers in summer, low water user, and also on the UC Davis All-Stars list. This vine shouldn't require much pruning.

Looking at each vine's characteristics, you can decide for yourself which will be the best for your garden. Any choice you make will be a good one and one you will enjoy for years. 

Good luck! 

 Contra Costa Master Gardeners Help Desk

Editor's 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 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:, and we are on the web at

Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Next 5 stories | Last story

UCD College of Ag
Plant Sciences Department
Webmaster Email: